Good Evening Fellow US Airways Pilots,
There are two filings of interest, one from the court and one from our attorneys. On August 6th, Judge Wake issued an order scheduling a hearing for USAPA’s Motion to Suspend and Stay the Permanent Injunction. In Document 596 dated July 23rd, USAPA asked Judge Wake to stay (suspend) the enforcement of the injunction until the appeals process is finished. Judge Wake scheduled a hearing over this matter for 2PM, August 20th. Also this week, our attorneys filed the response to USAPA’s Motion to Stay and you can read this response here .
We have said time and again that Leonidas is not interested in any endeavor other than protecting the seniority rights of West pilots. Hence, we have abstained from devoting energy and resources towards endeavors that are not directly connected to protecting the West’s seniority interests. To us, the decision of whether to join or not to join USAPA has been simple: join, pay dues, and vote. Logically this made the most sense as a union’s right to collect dues in a closed shop is absolute. Other than being an Objector, union members are not afforded any options regarding the payment of dues. Furthermore, there is almost no relationship between seniority rights and the duty to pay dues; we could lose our seniority rights regardless of whether any West pilot paid a dime to USAPA. We were able to successfully litigate a DFR suit against USAPA because a core group of West captains and first officers raised enough cash to fund the lawsuit. As the litigation progressed a steady stream of new contributors jumped on board and today we can proudly say that a majority of West pilots have contributed an average of one thousand dollars each. Another 30% of West pilots have contributed approximately $300 each, while the remaining 20% have contributed a few dollars or nothing at all. There is a direct connection between the donations received and Document 593 from Judge Wake. Payment of dues to USAPA has been irrelevant.
We understand the counterargument that paying dues amounts to funding the opposition. True, but during the course of this litigation many West pilots and a lot of East pilots were not paying dues, yet USAPA nevertheless showed up to argue before the jury that USAPA has the right to vaporize the seniority rights of every West pilot. So while the funding-the-adversary argument looks plausible on paper, the observed result is that USAPA can and will litigate on paper, the observed result is that USAPA can and will litigate against the West regardless of dues payment. In effect, USAPA has not been stymied by cash flow. What an obstinate refusal to pay dues does accomplish is that it gives the Gang of Idiots an opportunity to exercise their far reaching Section 29 powers.
As disconcerting as this may seem, the law clearly provides for the termination of employees in a closed shop who refuse to pay dues. The intent of the Union Security Clause was to give labor unions the power to collect dues without having to devote an inordinate amount of time and energy fighting its own members to collect dues. Presumably, a union can best represent the interests of all members when its distractions are minimized. The Union Security Clause eliminates the giant distraction of dues collection and hence its utility outweighs its dangers. Nevertheless, as with any power comes the potential for abuse and no doubt we are seeing that abuse take place here. Reports of pilots first becoming aware of their impending termination only when the company contacts them are common. Sure USAPA is claiming they mailed the Section 29 letters, but that’s just another claim in a long chain of assertions and promises that have been outright broken by USAPA since it was illegitimately conceived in the back of a van at Herndon. Furthermore, the union does not have to prove actual receipt of a Section 29 notification, so whether a pilot did or did not receive actual notice is irrelevant. The duty to pay is absolute and USAPA’s right to terminate a pilot for nonpayment of dues is very clear.
As unfair as our situation is, we cannot blame the drafters of the legislation for not guarding against this sort of Section 29 abuse as we – as in “we the membership” – have the power to remove the leadership responsible for this abuse. But to exercise this ability to change leadership, we need to be members in good standing, and that means we must pay the entire 1.95%. Sure it is legally possible to pay slightly less than this amount, but the cost of being an Objector is a relinquishment of our precious voting rights. That hardly seems like a worthwhile exchange to us. Hence, it has been and still remains Leonidas’ position that pilots should join, pay dues and vote.
Keep in mind that this litigation did not end with the liability verdict in May. As the liability case works its way through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, we still have an application pending before Judge Wake for the award of $1.8 million in attorney’s fees. The full memorandum of fees should be filed mid september. USAPA obviously would appeal any award in our favor, but to do so USAPA must still part with the entire award amount. In essence, they have to write a check regardless of whether they appeal the fee award. Furthermore, we are optimistic that we will be awarded costs for our appeal should USAPA lose at the 9th Circuit. That’s another check they will have to write, and we haven’t even started talking about the damages trial next Spring. War is expensive. The West didn’t start it but we are sure looking forward to getting this behind all of us. Every pilot has already lost a tremendous amount of money and to us it makes no sense why USAPA insists upon fighting a losing battle.
Now, on to the legal issues. Rather than even bother rebutting the outlandish characterizations coming out of the USAPA Braintrust,
we simply recommend to all US Airways pilots to read the filings we simply recommend to all US Airways pilots to read the filings and judge for yourselves. Readers will note that in our filing this week we ask the court to schedule the damages trial until early Spring of 2010. The reason for this is due to available resources while the appeal is underway for the liability trial. Recall from last week’s update that the 9th Cir. has calendared USAPA’s appeal of the liability trial for this December. We anticipate that the appeal will include oral arguments in addition to the written briefs that will be filed. In an effort to match resources against the myriad litigation tasks which lie ahead, a damages trial right after the appellate arguments would be too taxing. Hence, we are asking for a damages trial in March or April. And folks, to be perfectly candid, one of the reasons for the delay is money. Justice is not free and this litigation is burning up a lot of money. Although we are confident that some sort of remuneration for our litigation costs will be received back in the form of an award for a ttorney’s fees, we still have a lot of litigation left to fight – and fund. If each West pilot had given the recommended amount of $1,000, we would not have to ask for more money. Nevertheless, we can’t talk about slippage in the schedule without mentioning the obvious reason. If you haven’t committed to a $1,000 at this point, you need to do so now. Nobody is going to look out for your interests of those of your family. ALPA punted the issue and allowed the current situation to germinate and take hold. As we said above, war is expensive. We didn’t ask for this, but this is our reality. For the good of all US Airways pilots and our families, we need to finish this.
Also as a reminder, mark your calendars for Sept. 2nd as we will be having another all-hands muster with our attorneys at 3PM. Complimentary adult refreshments and chicken wings will be served. Please bring spouses too as they are affected just as much as we pilots. We look forward to seeing you there.
As always, have a great week.