Dear Former AWA Pilots,
Many of you received an unnerving email message from Leonidas LLC on April 1st, and hopefully most of you also saw the accompanying update. We know that the message caused some anxiety among West pilots, and probably elation among many USAPA fans. We directed you to our website where you were required to log in to get additional information. Though the update was labeled as an “April Fools Joke,” it would be unwise to disregard the underlying message: every West pilot’s career is at stake and that is not a laughing matter. Likewise, pilots sleepwalking through this process as if it is perfectly normal to let others carry the full weight of the effort is unacceptable, but that is exactly what is happening here, and that is why we sent that blast email. As we said in the explanation, we are in an incredible position of stopping USAPA’s Date of Hire cram down. Getting here has not been free. Our lawyers are clearly among the best in the United States, and every West pilot is fortunate that Marty Harper decided to take our case. If you doubt this, then look into RLA history where you will find nothing close to what has happened here. We are thankful for Polsinelli-Shugart, as they did not need our business, yet they were willing to take our case.
We accepted the possibility that there might be a few who would be offended by the April 1st update and possibly use it as an excuse to not continue with their support. We were willing to bet that those who would make that choice would have been looking for an excuse anyway. From the flood of contributions that followed, it is clear that the vast majority of our pilots simply “got it.” The point was to drive home the fact that this would be impossible without the real financial support from the West pilots. Imagine your world without this effort. Imagine the possibility of not even making it to the fight because our group could not coalesce into a critical mass of energy, which is exactly what the founders of USAPA and their hired gun attorney assumed would happen. They figured when push came to shove, many of you would equivocate and say something like, “Forget about USAPA, I'd rather have a new ___________.” [fill in the blank with whatever fancy doodad gadget that costs a lot but returns nothing close to what your career does]. Just ask yourself what puts food on the table, clothes on your back, fuel in the car, and makes the bank holding the note to your house happy. Think about it for a moment – perhaps it is your job whose security and value is inextricably linked to your seniority?
Just before we were granted class certification an effort was made to drum up additional support from the West pilots. This was in order to prove to the judge that the West was undeniably behind our effort, and that the plaintiff's were support by a broad cross-section of our population. The response was amazing, as we went from approximately 750 West pilot contributors, to over 1250. But, there was an unintended consequence: This impressive increase of 67% was accompanied by a drop in the average contribution by over 20 percent! Sending $1.00 to Leonidas, LLC so you can “check that box” and claim that you have contributed and are part of the team is simply inadequate- in fact, you should be ashamed. If that is the limit of your support, then we would have preferred that you kept your dollar, because frankly that is an offensive insult.
It is an incontrovertible fact that the litigation is the principal topic in crew rooms. We expect that all West pilots sleep more soundly at night knowing that Leonidas is protecting their interest in this merger. While you sleep, there is a whole team of people who are giving up their own sleep, foregoing time with their families, and sacrificing thirty to sixty hours each week to make the whole thing happen- doing so while flying the line or worse, while on furlough. Furthermore, it is all done without any kind of safety net, insurance policy, paycheck, or flight-pay-loss. Lastly, it has only been possible because a core group of pilots have supported us with their wallets to keep it all going. These are the pilots who have been wearing gold, silver and bronze badge backers from the beginning. Those badges evidence the type of commitment that USAPA swore would not occur. Well, it did, but we should still do better because the fight is far from over.
After having been in business for well over a year, and having produced the legal campaign which we promised from the date of our incorporation in August 2007, we are now just weeks away from making history. In spite of all that, there are STILL those who haven't paid their share while searching endlessly for excuses and feigning that they j ust don't care. We will continue trying to reach those people because in the end, no matter what the outcome, we know that they will forever regret that they did not answer the call that so many of their fellow pilots did. Why did we require you to log in to get the rest of the important information referred to in that April 1st update? That was done to drive home the point that www.cactuspilot.com is the only official source (other than the court documents themselves) for information regarding the AWA pilots legal campaign. If you didn't care enough to bother to obtain a user name and password before, you certainly cared then. We spend considerable time providing timely updates, yet some still dishonestly state that they haven't even heard of Leonidas LLC, our website, or the legal campaign itself. Here is a fact -at this point in time those who would claim ignorance of what is going on are simply lying, or would claim ignorance of what is going on are simply lying, or are so oblivious that one has to wonder whether they should be flying airplanes.
We wanted to give you a glimpse into our mindset as we move toward trial. We know we scared you a bit, but that was the point. We would like every West pilot to earnestly contemplate the value of this legal defense for themselves, their families, and for justice itself. After doing so, we hope that you will total what you have given to Leonidas LLC thus far, and if it does not equal at least $500, then we ask that you consider bringing your contributions up to at least that amount before we go to trial. When we launched this campaign, we asked for $1000 from every AWA pilot, knowing full well that few would rise to that level. Thankfully, many have done so with some going far beyond that call. Fact is that the estimated average expenditure for every West pilot for this effort will be approximately $500. Due to the fact that there are still too many of our brothers and sisters whom have simply not chosen to participate yet, we must ask that those of you who understand what is at stake carry the weight of the non- participants as well, and we know you will, because that is the kind of quality character you are.
These past few weeks have been very busy for the Leonidas team and the attorneys of Polsinelli Shugart. April first marked a deadline for a list from both parties of exhibits and witnesses to be used at trial. The next and probably last big order that we will receive from the judge before the trial commences is the “Pre-Trial Order,” and we will have that by the end of next week (Friday, April 17th.) The Pre-Trial Order (“Pre-trial” for short) defines in the court’s words the issue to be tried. Another significant order will be the “Jury Instructions” as they will be the rubric under which USAPA’s liability is determined. The Jury Instructions, combined with the issue to be tried, work together to send the jury into deliberations to answer what is essentially a yes or no question. Although we do not know how the final Pre-trial or the Jury Instructions will look, what we can gather is that the issues to be tried will be very narrow, as eight trial days for a jury trial eliminates all but the most relevant arguments that are closely tied to the central issue – that of USAPA’s breach of its DFR. There simply will not be enough court time for many elaborate or complicated arguments on either side. Folks on the East who are hoping for a second bite at the apple with regards to the fairness of the Nicolau are probably going to be disappointed, as there will not be time to go there, nor will it be relevant.
We also must offer a mea culpa, as we were wrong in our update from last Sunday. There, we informed you all of USAPA’s request to depose Al Hemenway and we predicted that the judge would not allow that to occur. Well, we were wrong and the judge did allow USAPA and the West attorneys wrong and the judge did allow USAPA and the West attorneys three hours each to depose Mr. Hemenway. Of course, this was a standard deposition with the deponent answering questions under oath with a stenographer recording everything being said. Unfortunately, it will take a few weeks to get the stenographer’s notes transcribed and we will not relate any specific answers without the supporting document. However, we can characterize the overall substance of Mr. Hemenway’s deposition as being dramatically different than what we have heard from Doug, Al, and Ed at the Crews News sessions in the East. The difference when the company is answering questions about the seniority dispute while under oath is staggering. We apologize for speaking cryptically, but until the stenographer’s notes are signed by the deponent and each side has a copy of the depositions, we will refrain from saying anything more than the general characterizations above.
Also scheduled for what should be the final two East depositions next week will be Scott Thuer and former President-Elect Cleary. We say “former” because it appears as though the wheels came flying off USAPA’s “democracy for all” vehicle on the first lap. It is beginning to look like there will be a “do-over” of at least some of last month’s elections due to USAPA wrongfully excluding a West pilot from candidacy. Naturally, the decision to exclude a West pilot was likely the product of the legal advice from the billing machine known as USAPA's counsel. We look forward to facing that same group of attorneys in just over three weeks.
Please be on the lookout for a few extra updates as we move closer to trial. And finally, we do pledge that the “April Fools Update” will be the only use of this type of misinformation. You will not have to worry about the validity of future communications- that was a “one shot” deal, not unlike the upcoming trial itself.
Thanks for listening, and for making it all possible.