A week has gone by and we remain as shocked as you are by the ISL award. While we did not know what the award would be, no one expected the Board of Arbitrators (BOA) to punish the West pilots for successfully defending our legal rights for the past nine years. Disregarding the Ninth Circuit's ruling entirely, the BOA effectively forgave the East pilots for their DFR breach and permanently rewarded them for their illegal acts at the expense of the West pilots, and to a lesser extent, LAA pilots. Furthermore, the BOA credits the former East furloughees’ with their December 9, 2013 Category & Status job placements. In doing so, the BOA permitted the East pilots to reap the gains they attained by the TA (Transition Agreement) imposed fence and the company’s decisions for the hiring of pilots and allocation of flying at the “New US Airways.” This is in direct conflict with section IV (D) of the TA which specifically stated that the company's interim decisions for flying allocations cannot be used to determine the ISL. In this award, the BOA not only set aside the Nicolau Award, but also the Eischen Award, the B757 LOU, the 2005 TA and its protections for the West’s share of post merger flying including the large growth in Wide-body aircraft. The BOA simply gave short shrift to the careers the West pilots brought to the 2005 merger with US Airways and our post-merger career benefits. East pilots, saved from liquidation and unemployment by the 2005 merger with AWA, chose to remain at their lowest-in-the-industry bankruptcy wages to extend the TA imposed fence for over ten years. The BOA ignored the crime, rewarded the perpetrators, and then punished the victims. Stunning!
The West Merger Committee placed in evidence the notion that arbitrations are the ultimate definition of Fair and Equitable (as stated, ironically, by the East Merger Committee attorney's father, Roland Wilder, in a matter related to the AA/TWA merger in 2001). Now, two completely different arbitrated awards exist to resolve the same dispute. Which award is Fair and Equitable? This decision by the BOA ends the concept that arbitrations are by definition Fair and Equitable, undermines the legitimacy of arbitrations and succeeds in perpetuating the dispute between East and West pilots.
This award is particularly devastating to the careers of the senior West First Officers, the group who had their imminent CA upgrade put on hold since 2005 by the East’s DFR breach. The BOA chose to ignore the positions owed the West pilots under the terms of the TA, placing nearly 1300 East and LAA pilots between P2070 and P2071, further delaying CA upgrades. These two never-furloughed West pilots were hired on the same day, and in the same class, but now have drastically different career progressions thanks to the arbitrators' flawed logic. The career opportunities of West pilot P2071 and those below him will lag well behind the rest of the West pilots by at least 4 years. This damage far exceeds the damage to the careers claimed by the East pilots under the Nicolau award.
We had hoped this award would put to rest the need to protect the seniority interests of the West pilots, but that is not the case. There are a host of irregularities in this award that may or may not provide a cause of action, which is currently under review by the attorneys. That being said, we will not take any action that might interfere with the quick implementation of this ISL award, flawed though it may be. Given the clear animus shown towards West pilots throughout this merger and the last, we can no longer afford to stand out as a target for further harm and believe we must integrate now and fight this injustice after that, as opportunities arise.
We must remain vigilant to defend the seniority rights of the West pilots against any assault mounted by the East pilots, American Pilots, APA or the Company. Recall in 2007 when the Nicolau Award was first issued, the West pilots were disappointed, but relieved that it was not the devastating East proposal. That award was assumed to be “Final and Binding.” It was assumed that ALPA would defend the Nicolau Award. No one believed that USAPA would be successfully formed expressly to overturn the award and many were complacent that our rights would be defended by those obligated to do so, or that our rights would somehow defend themselves. Leonidas, LLC was created because its founders saw risks to West pilot careers when most assumed everything would be fine and go as planned. Like in 2007 when the Nicolau was less than ideal for West pilots, but far better than the alternatives, dangers may also exist for this dubious award. As we predicted long ago many LAA pilots, due to a poor understanding of ISL arbitrations, (as well as the history of the AWA/US Airways) are clearly upset. On September 9, 2016, a group of LAA pilots launched a campaign to raise funds to challenge the ISL award. If any LAA or LUS-East pilots go forward with an action, the West pilots will likely be forced back into litigation to defend our seniority rights against a new adversary because history shows that we cannot count on the bargaining agent to defend its own award properly. We know many of you are anxious to see a legal strategy broadcast here and now, but this has never been our practice and we won't begin doing that now. Rest assured that our attorneys are diligently reviewing the situation right now, in addition to keeping tabs on all looming threats.
On August 30, a fairness hearing was held for the LMRDA settlement before Judge Conrad. In this hearing, objections to the settlement were heard and rejected. It is worth noting that the father of Rick Brown, an East Merger committee member for both USAPA and EPSIC, was one of the primary objectors. Last week, Judge Conrad issued his order in the LMRDA settlement case. The timing of when funds will actually be transferred to the West plaintiffs, to be held in trust at the ASU Alumni Law Group, remains to be seen so your continued support is needed in the meantime. Even if you are totally satisfied with the Award, know that you have not yet found safety.
In the meantime, the West Merger Committee has a few remaining expenses and we must be prepared to fund the Dispute Resolution Committee because APA will not do that for us. USAPA, while breaching its DFR to West pilots and negotiating the Protocol Agreement, which governs these matters, made sure of that. It is a fact that Leonidas, LLC is the sole funding source for these matters and for the forgoing reasons; your contributions are still needed.