All New American pilots are likely aware of the growing disagreements between USAPA and the Allied Pilots Association. These matters include a dispute over Single Carrier Status before the NMB, a lawsuit in the Federal District Court in Washington DC in which USAPA seeks, an order declaring that the McCaskill-Bond Amendment requires that the integration of the seniority lists of US Airways and American pilots must be completed pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Allegheny-Mohawk Labor Protective Provisions (Allegheny-Mohawk LPPs), and the failure to negotiate a Seniority Integration Protocol Agreement. The last item has recently become the subject of a very public and open dispute between APA and USAPA. You may read USAPA's account of events here , and APA's version here For additional foundational information, reference APA's latest proposal for a protocol agreement found here . We are pleased that the process is getting so much attention by both parties, yet remain skeptical that West Pilots will be fairly represented by either union.
It is also important to distinguish the forthcoming seniority integration process (and the related disputes) from the cooperative bargaining now taking place between APA, USAPA and New American in effort to reach a Joint Collective Bargaining Agreement (JCBA). While there have been some positive joint communications from the unions about the JCBA, they have no relation to the seniority dispute. USAPA claims that APA's latest counter-proposal is regressive, while clearly expressing consternation that, [i]t is a step backwards from the proposal we rejected in February. APA, on the other hand, claims [n]othing in the APA proposal was a surprise to USAPA or its merger counsel and, we made our protocol proposal last week at USAPA's specific request. It could not have surprised them, here the APA update clearly takes a tone of indignation with USAPA. Lastly, APA claims, at their [USAPA's] suggestion, APA has proposed that the West pilots be afforded the opportunity to petition a neutral arbitrator for the right to a separate and independent merger committee in the seniority integration process, while concluding its APA update with the sentence, [p]lease forward this email to every US Airways pilot you know and tell them that APA is committed to the fair process that we all signed up for. [Emphasis added] With these conflicting statements, wherein does the truth lie? Just how committed to a West Merger Committee is APA?
We have no doubt, and the evidence shows, that USAPA has no plan to protect any West pilot's interests in the upcoming SLI. When it comes to APA we are encouraged at some of the language they have included in their recent publications regarding West inclusion in the process. That being said, we must have more certainty from APA regarding the use of the NIC and/or West participation in the SLI process than that provided by words like "may, might, and should we desire" before we throw our unconditional support behind APA.
First, review APA's proposed language regarding an independent West Merger Committee found in paragraph 3 of its June 18, 2014 APA Protocol Proposal:
Within __ days following the execution of this Seniority Integration Protocol Agreement, a committee claiming to represent the interests of all pilots on a separate pre-merger seniority list referenced in paragraph 4(b) below, may invoke the dispute resolution procedures of paragraph 20 of the MOU to apply to receive party status as a Merger Committee on behalf of the pilots on such separate pre-merger seniority list under the provisions of this Protocol Agreement. New American, any certified bargaining representative, and the existing Merger Committees shall have the right to respond to any such application. The Arbitrator designated under paragraph 20 of the MOU shall have the authority to rule on any such application, with the ruling being final and binding on New American, APA, USAPA, the Merger Committees, and the pilots of American and US Airways. Any Merger Committee authorized by the arbitrator pursuant to this paragraph 3 shall thereafter be treated as a Merger Committee under this Seniority Integration Protocol Agreement for all purposes.
Paragraph 4(b) referenced above states:
The certified seniority lists will reflect the status quo of the three seniority lists in effect at the carriers on December 9, 2013 (i.e., American, US Airways (East), US Airways (West); provided, that this will be without prejudice to any Merger Committees position on the appropriate snapshot or constructive notice date.
As you can see, the actual APA proposal offers little to the former America West pilots. While preferable to USAPA's position, which aggressively seeks to exclude any independent West committee from the entire seniority integration proceedings, it provides no actual assurance of a West committee. Many unanswered questions remain (or are made even more problematic) by this current proposal. For example, paragraph 3 of the APA proposal allows all other parties to respond to any such application (for an independent West Merger Committee). What's to keep all parties (and not only USAPA) from opposing such an application? In fact, in the event that more than one committee makes such an application, who will determine which committee will be recognized for the purpose of invoking the MOU paragraph 20 dispute resolution process? Is it possible for the company, APA, and USAPA to affect (if not choose outright) the committee who will represent the West pilots? Might the other parties ensure the selection of a committee less committed or capable of enforcing the seniority rights of West pilots in order to relieve themselves of liability to the West pilots' DFR? West pilots expect a fair process and that starts with West pilots choosing their own merger committee.
A look at the recent history and the MOU illustrates how it might be possible to disadvantage ALL US Airways pilots. Paragraph 28 of the MOU states, US Airways and USAPA agree to be bound by and abide by the arbitration decision contemplated by Letter of Agreement 12-05 of the 2012 CBA. Most didn't give this paragraph a second thought and no information was provided about its meaning to US Airways pilots. LOA 12-05 relates to the closure of the STL domicile (populated almost exclusively by former TWA pilots) and the elimination of the fence around the base known as Supplement CC. Supplement CC was an extensive list of Conditions and Restrictions protecting the former TWA pilots based in STL. The planned closure of STL as part of the AA bankruptcy led to the need to eliminate these protections, in turn leading to the need to fashion some sort of replacement provisions. This led to LOA 12-05 which enacted a process ostensibly designed to provide a fair and equitable solution to the termination of Supplement CC, pitting the interest of Native AA pilots against those of the former TWA pilots by way of arbitration among committees created and controlled by APA (which, of course, is dominated by Native pilots). The TWA pilots really had no choice other than to go along with the process, in spite of the onerous preconditions to the arbitration agreed upon between management and APA.
In the words of the arbitration panel in the LOA 12-05 Award itself:
LOA 12-05 incorporates substantial restrictions. Among these, none is more clear than that the TWA Pilots existing seniority placements on the Pilots System Seniority List are final and shall continue and the related mandate that In no event shall the arbitrators have authority to modify the Pilots System Seniority List Thus, while the TWA pilots have vigorously urged the Panel to respond to what they characterize as inequitable and oppressive results visited upon them by the 2001 seniority integration, the LOA unequivocally precludes any result that would alter seniority placements on the Pilots System Seniority List. Other restrictions include the mandate that our newly prescribed conditions be non-economic, such that there be no material costs beyond training to the Company. Finally, LOA 12-05 incorporates the agreement that nothing in this Award shall require the establishment or continuation of any flight operation at any location
Without taking a position as to the fairness or propriety of the resulting award, the arbitrators themselves make it clear that their hands were tied by substantial restrictions in crafting their award. Furthermore, these restrictions were agreed to among the company and APA and were clearly objected to by the affected TWA pilots. The TWA pilots believed they could not achieve a fair result from what they found to be a rigged process. As you might guess, this is now the subject of yet more DFR litigation (you may read the complaint here ) against the APA by the TWA minority within.
This is recent history for the APA and AA management, most of which was concurrent with the negotiation of the MOU. It should serve as a cautionary tale about strategies which the APA may employ against all US Airways pilots, East and West. APA may attempt to ensure that Native American pilots participate only in a process wherein APA controls the rules and sets preconditions which serve to insulate its pilots against any risk and/or give them an unfair advantage. APA's latest protocol proposal does nothing to ensure that this will not occur, a fact which will undoubtedly be exploited by USAPA as it seeks to protect East pilots against this potential outcome (while continuing its campaign against West pilots) through litigation in DC, as well as its opposition to Single Carrier Status at the NMB.
While counterintuitive (and not something West pilots have supported), USAPA's resistance and breach of the MOU has caused a delay which forced APA to move, if only a little, in the direction West pilots require. It appears the longer USAPA is able to delay the process and cast doubt upon the ultimate outcome, the closer APA moves toward a clear, unambiguous, fair, tamper-proof, and unalterable integration process for all pilots of new AA.
In summary, we believe APA did take a tiny step in the right direction with its latest proposed protocol agreement. It is an improvement over its prior version in which APA promised nothing more than,the discretion to provide for the separate participation of the West Pilots in the seniority integration process if APA so chooses. [See Leonidas Update of 18JUN2014] However, nothing therein provides the sort of ironclad assurances all US Airways pilots (East and West separately) should realistically expect. West pilots certainly anticipated that USAPA would play games with the process. West pilots are also pleased that APA has consistently recognized the need for a separate West Merger Committee in the process through its public statements. But, in order to unquestionably comport with Judge Silver's order, defeat USAPA's litigation in DC, meet its duty of fair representation to all pilots, and address any lingering concerns the NMB has, we believe APA must take concrete steps and clearly outline its entire post-certification intentions to bring about the fair and equitable integration of all New AA pilots. It is important that APA voluntarily yield its authority to renegotiate its plan once it becomes the bargaining agent. APA must make a plan, communicate it, and then stick with that plan until the process is complete.
This is by no means an endorsement of USAPA as it continues to work against West pilots, nor is it a call for West pilots to offer their unqualified support for the APA. Given the lack of any concrete commitment to an independent and autonomous West Merger Committee (chosen by West pilots), APA has thus far presented no real reason for West pilots to support it other than not USAPA. Whether intended or not, West pilots have been misled by false propaganda and ambiguous commitments before. We are rightfully leery and skeptical of representations made by any union (or management) and our trust and support must be earned. As you can see from the language in APA's actual proposal (as contrasted with its communications), West pilots remain without any real ally in our struggle.
Enthusiasm for the end of USAPA should not cloud your judgment. All US Airways pilots should carefully read what APA publishes or proposes paying close attention to the many conditional statements which may feel warm and fuzzy, but really provide nothing more than false hope that APA will do right by us all.
Stay informed, don't lose sight of the facts, and thanks again for your continued support.