Print

Leonidas Update April 1, 2009

on .

 

Dear former AWA Pilots,

 

Perhaps you received this message today via a blast email:

 

Attention Former AWA Pilots,

Due to lack of participation, and financial support, the legal campaign founded and funded by Leonidas LLC has been terminated. Your seniority will now be determined according to the policy set forth in the USAPA Constitution.

In the event of a merger, USAPA will advocate for your seniority rights through its Merger Committee. Understand that although the Nicolau Award simply blendy East and West pilots according to their pre-merger percentile rank, USAPA will make good on its promise to insure the Nicolau Award will never see the light of day, and the company should gladly sign off on a “labor peace” agreement because it mollifies an unruly two-thirds of the pilot group. Going forward then, ALPA Merger policy and the Nicolau Award will not be considered and will have no effect.

We are simply unable to continue this fight without a greater commitment to this cause from our pilot group as a whole.

With regrets, Leonidas LLC

*** Please visit www.cactuspilot.com for more details***

 

Since Wednesday was “April Fools Day,” we decided to test the attention of those still sitting on the fence via the above alarming message. We apologize to our committed supporters for any anxiety this may have caused. However, for those who have not contributed significantly, we hope that the above “alarm” serves as a sobering wake up call.

 

After almost one year of dealing with USAPA, we are now in an incredible position to shut down their brazen attempt to steal the seniority of every West pilot. Getting to this point, however, was anything but easy. Over the course of this campaign we have made a conscientious effort to campaign we have made a conscientious effort to communicate facts and provide the means for all West pilots to stay informed. Despite our best efforts to pare these updates down to a pamphlet-size length, there are just too many intricate facts which need communicating, and we always seemed to end up with 2000 words or more. There is a justifiable reason for this: our case is complex. Unfortunately, we have learned through speaking with folks on the jump seats and in the crew rooms, that this fact is lost on a number of our pilots. Predictably, it is usually those pilots who are not fully informed that have either failed to contribute to the Leonidas LLC legal campaign, or if they have contributed, then it was merely a token amount. It is to this group of pilots to whom this update speaks.

 

As of today, we are now a mere four weeks away from trial – an event which will likely be the most significant in every West pilot’s career. The airline industry is about to experience a change far greater than anything it has seen before. Just take a look at what is happening in the automotive industry to see where our industry is headed- it is probably going to get a lot smaller. The job you have today (if you are lucky), which is the same job you brought to the merger, could easily be gone and many East pilots who were furloughed when the merger came along (with little chance of ever returning) will remain employed in what is/was your company. Don’t believe us? Then read USAPA’s illusory Conditions and Restrictions and consider what would happen should there be a system wide reduction of 25%. That scenario would result in the furloughing of three quarters of the AWA pilots who were employed at the time of the merger. In other words, P1300 would be sitting as a reserve F/O, probably somewhere on the East Coast, if not out of a job. At the time of the merger that same pilot was a middle line-holding captain. Every other AWA pilot junior to P1300 or so would be gone. Think of the magnitude of that kind of harm: pilots who were captains for more than a decade before this merger getting downgraded and then furloughed, while East pilots who had little hope of ever returning to the cockpit remain employed. That is what USAPA has planed for you future, and absent our litigation, it would likely become reality.

 

Our point is this: a lot of bad things can happen - and will happen - to West pilots unless USAPA’s Date of Hire “objective” is stopped. The widespread angst in the West pilot group following USAPA’s election was warranted, as the controls of our lone protector, our labor union, had just been handed over to the group dedicated to taking everything from the West and giving to the East. We could not have been left

more bare on April 18th as ALPA simply folded their tent and told us “Good luck.” USAPA soon filed its frivolous RICO suit against 18 individual West pilots. Their alleged crimes? Phone calls and web postings. Additionally, the founders of Leonidas LLC, and AWAPPA were named in that RICO suit, and their only crime was stepping forward to organize a defense against only crime was stepping forward to organize a defense against USAPA’s stated intention to take our seniority. Remember the sudden change in Doug Parker’s tone to the West? Gone was his feigned neutrality, and in its place we saw a stern and curt demeanor- his words and body language communicating an impatience with the West’s refusal to acquiesce to our own demise.

 

Fast forward to where we are RIGHT NOW. TODAY! We are going to trial in exactly four weeks with a cause of action that rarely survives the dismissal stage. These are the facts that we still find far too many West pilots are missing. We want the non-contributing pilots and the pilots who have only made token contributions to understand that this case was difficult from the beginning, and it has taken the commitment of a core group of pilots to make this happen.

 

Even more important, we are fortunate to have found a law firm which has “hall of fame” credentials and has been willing to take on our case. It was apparent from the beginning that the other side would make this case difficult for whoever was our counsel. Our adversary does not play fair; their only game plan was to hide from litigating on the merits and instead try to stall us and bleed us dry financially. Every week there are pointless and frivolous filings generated by the opposing party, to which we must respond, with the sole purpose of dragging this litigation out longer and running up our costs. Recently, USAPA insisted on repeated depositions of the same West pilots and then they refused our offers to help economize by conducting all of them in one place, and in series. Again, this is by design as it ran up our costs and caused delay.

 

We will tell you now that USAPA’s delay tactics almost worked. Thankfully, our law firm is deeply committed to our case, but they need to pay their attorneys and staff, and that means that we needed to convince them that our pilot group could be relied upon. What got us off of the ground, and has kept this campaign going was the true commitment of only about half of the West pilots who contributed a hefty amount of money to this campaign in the early stages. That, and it took some darn good lawyering to get our case before Judge Wake, as DFR's rarely survive dismissal. Now that we are soon to be in court, it is a whole different story. What is remarkable is that our law firm has displayed a greater commitment to our cause than has roughly one-quarter of the former AWA pilots (who nonetheless benefit from their work) who have given little or nothing. For those of you who have had the pleasure of meeting our legal team at one of our informational meetings, you know what we are talking about- these people care deeply about our cause, and it shows.

 

Contrary to urban legend, not one cent has come from ALPA or from some other unseen benevolent benefactor. We are fully on our own. In light of the above, this will forever be your last chance to join the fight and be a part of the team. Those last chance to join the fight and be a part of the team. Those of us that have made this whole thing happen (including the many AWA pilots who have provided the funding) are looking to those who have not substantially contributed and we are asking you now: WHY NOT? We find the “wait and see” attitude incomprehensible as now is the time where each and every West pilot’s career hangs in the balance. A jury will soon decide our fate and it should go without saying that every resource must be thrown into this effort now- not sometime in the future, but today.

 

Please understand that if you have not given to LEONIDAS LLC, then you have not really contributed. If you have only contributed a token amount (e.g. $1, $5, or $20), then understand that you only helped us buy anywhere from 20 seconds to three minutes of an attorney's time, and that’s it. Also, for the record, the “sizable check” made by AWAPPA to our law firm this past January in furtherance of the legal campaign was enough to fund about one day of the upcoming trial- never mind the expenses necessary to get there. That is not to say it was unappreciated, but our pilots must understand that AWAPPA has also incurred tremendous expenses in defense of the AWA pilots through the RICO suit, among other projects. So, for those of you who gave (or continue to give) to AWAPPA under the impression that your money is going to this fight, then we need to state that some has, but not nearly enough to fuel this machine. Lastly, and while we appreciate the sentiment, at this point we need more than well-wishes and words of encouragement, like “hey... thanks for all you’re doing.” Those things are nice, but if you haven't given MONEY (and more than a token amount), then those words ring hallow, as justice for the AWA pilots is simply not going to be free.

 

The clock is ticking . . .

 

Leonidas LLC

 

P.S. In the words of Getty Lee from the song “Free Will,” by the legendary and immortal rock band Rush, “If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice...” In others words, if you have not given to Leonidas LLC, then you have chosen to support USAPA and its date-of-hire plans for your remaining career.