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Leonidas Update April 4, 2013

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Yesterday, West pilots’ legal counsel Marty Harper and Jennifer Axel, on behalf of Leonidas, LLC, participated in a telephone conference scheduled by Judge Sean Lane, who is the Federal Bankruptcy Judge overseeing the AMR bankruptcy. The purpose of the call was originally set as a scheduling conference and it turned into a discussion of the glaring defects in USAPA’s lawsuit against Leonidas, LLC, (as later amended to include the nine West pilot plaintiffs), which it filed last month in the AMR Bankruptcy case. Also on the call were attorneys representing AMR and the Unsecured Creditors Committee (UCC). USAPA apparently had a bankruptcy attorney on the call, rather than the regular counsel USAPA pilots have come to expect. Each party had an opportunity to speak.

USAPA's “Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief” alleged West Pilot interference with the American/US Airways Merger (and in effect, the AMR bankruptcy). Really, this is another example of USAPA’s effort to drive up the legal costs and prevent West pilots from litigating our claim to the Nicolau Award any further. All parties - except USAPA - agreed with the salient positions outlined in Marty Harper’s letters to USAPA General Counsel Pat Syzmanski [March 26 MH Letter, March 27 USAPA Letter, March 28 MH letter]: (1) West pilots are not seeking to stop the merger; and (2) USAPA simply lacks standing to assert any claims in AMR's bankruptcy. The discussion therefore centered on how best to extinguish USAPA’s complaint. Unfortunately, USAPA would not voluntarily dismiss the case so an idea was floated to all parties that perhaps USAPA and the West Pilots would enter a joint stipulation with Judge Lane’s Court whereby both parties would agree to not interfere with the AMR bankruptcy. It appears as though AMR attorneys, an actual party that has standing in Judge Lane’s Court (unlike USAPA that doesn’t have standing), offered to draft the stipulation, so we are awaiting their proposal.

Nonetheless, we are a bit perplexed how Leonidas, LLC, the West class representatives, or USAPA can even stipulate to something in a court in which no party has any real standing. Regardless, we will go on record saying that we will work constructively with Judge Lane’s Court to bring the East-West seniority dispute to a conclusion in the venue that is proper – the Arizona Federal District Court. All parties - except USAPA - recognized this yesterday. Furthermore, it is clear from recent developments that our claim is ripe; even under the Tashima standard. USAPA itself argued to Judge Lane that the East-West seniority dispute is a matter that needs to be adjudicated now, to which the AMR and UCC attorneys agreed. 

What is really happening here is that events are unfolding amidst this US-AMR merger such that the proverbial elephant can’t be ignored any longer; there will be no more kicking the can. A Duty of Fair Representation suit can only be heard in Federal Court, and that is exactly where our DFR case is now – in the Arizona Federal District Court. Of course, none of this would be necessary if US Airways would simply recognize that the Nicolau is the US Airways seniority list. It is because of their feigned neutrality that we are still dealing with this issue six years later. 

Resolution to the East-West seniority dispute is really quite simple: (1) take the Nicolau; or (2) wait for a federal court to adjudicate the West DFR. Right now it appears that the second option is how this will proceed. So be it.

Once again, we thank you for your financial support. Remember, Leonidas, LLC will again publish a list of its strongest contributors soon. It is not too late to be recognized for your commitment to our common cause.

 Sincerely, 

Leonidas, LLC

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Leonidas Update March 26, 2013

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Today, attorneys for the West pilots filed a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction against USAPA in the Arizona Federal District Court. You can read the filings by clicking here and here. Additionally, this morning Marty Harper sent the following letter to USAPA. Finally, the West attorneys filed a Motion for Class Certification yesterday, which you can read here.

We strongly encourage all pilots to download and read these filings.

Sincerely,

Leonidas, LLC

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Leonidas Update March 05, 2013

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On February 27, 2013, APA President Keith Wilson published a message to the APA membership addressing concerns regarding seniority integration with US Airways pilots (you can read the message here)


In this message, President Wilson clearly does not echo USAPA’s sentiment that Date-of-Hire (DOH) integration is the “Gold Standard.” Indeed, he more closely aligns with Arbitrator George Nicolau’s statement that, “each case turns on its own facts,”, reminding the membership that, although date-of-hire might be a valid integration method in certain circumstances, it has not been used for pilots since 1986- over a quarter century ago:

“Bear in mind that date of hire is not the only way to integrate seniority lists, and in recent years has not even been a common method. The last arbitrated date of hire integrated seniority list arose out of the 1986 Northwest/Republic merger. In that case, the arbitrator found that the date of hire list could be fair and equitable only with 20-year fences between the two pilot groups. The result was 20 years of arbitrated disputes over what the award meant and how it applied. It was, therefore, generally considered to have been an operational disaster. Since the Northwest/Republic arbitration, the paradigm has shifted in favor of integrated lists based on ratios reflecting the number of jobs and other equities “brought to the merger” by each group, with fences applied for as long as necessary to keep the operation fair until the integrated list can operate fairly by itself. Career expectations at each carrier along with fleet disposition and future delivery schedules are among the important factors in constructing such a list. While each merger and subsequent seniority integration is unique in its own way, the recent integrations at Delta/Northwest and soon-to-be United/Continental illustrate this decision-making methodology.”

The American pilots’ concern regarding even the possibility, (no matter how remote) of a date-of-hire integration is well founded. USAPA recently restated its commitment to a date-of-hire seniority integration by claiming that it will only pursue a date-of-hire method of integration pursuant to its “constitutional mandate.”

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Leonidas Update March 08, 2013

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In the USAPA President’s message dated March 6th, 2013, President Gary Hummel announced that USAPA filed a lawsuit in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. You can download the USAPA lawsuit here. He says that the aim of this litigation is to prevent Leonidas, LLC from interfering with the AMR bankruptcy case that has been underway since November, 2011. You can read the message here.

As the exclusive collective bargaining agent (CBA) for all US Airways pilots, USAPA is the only entity on the Airways side that can interfere with the AMR bankruptcy, and from their filing it looks like they are trying to accomplish exactly that right now.

Truth be told, nobody on the West is trying to stop the merger or derail the MOU, which brings with it long overdue pay and benefit increases for all US Airways pilots. While the MOU voting was open, the USAPA Merger Committee and the USAPA legal counsel were very clear in their statements and communications to the US Airways pilots that the MOU did not take a position on East/West seniority. Among those publicly stating this opinion was none other than USAPA President Gary Hummel – the same Gary Hummel who just two days ago claimed that a West “yes” vote in favor of the MOU was really a vote in favor of USAPA’s DOH scheme. Really?

This seniority issue is not a problem of the West’s making. Stronger leadership from both ALPA and US Airways at the time Arbitrator Nicolau released his decision could have prevented the battles of the last five years. Judge Wake succinctly explained it:

 

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Leonidas Update February 23, 2013

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On Wednesday, February 20, 2013, USAPA filed a 38-page “Motion to Expedite” with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the company’s Declaratory Judgment (DJ) case. (Click here to view.) 

US Airways filed a “Notice of Appeal” on December 31, 2012 and they have until the end of March to file. Will US Airways follow through with an appeal? The MOU makes the DJ case almost irrelevant as its claim was submitted on the premise of a “Hobson’s choice” – If the company did not negotiate with USAPA for a seniority scheme other than the Nicolau Award under Section 6 of the RLA, then they would be faced with a possibility of a strike versus being sued by the West pilots for not using the legitimately arbitrated seniority solution. Now, there is only one side of the “Hobson’s choice” - be sued by West pilots for aiding and abetting USAPA for not honoring the arbitrated Nicolau Award going forward. 

USAPA’s filing contains many of the same tired arguments that were first considered and addressed by George Nicolau. But we find the following pair of statements to be incriminating. USAPA's very first sentence reads:

“Defendant-Appellee US Airline Pilots Association (“USAPA”) is the exclusive bargaining representative for all pilots employed by Plaintiff-Appellant US Airways, Inc. (“US Airways).”

 

Then, on Page 4, USAPA states:

“USAPA...has repeatedly sought to engage the former America West Pilots and the West Pilot Class in substantive discussions to resolve the seniority dispute.”

How can USAPA exclusively represent US Airways Pilots and simultaneously negotiate with West Pilots? The answer is simple: They Can’t. When attempting to negotiate with West Pilots, USAPA defaults to what it has always done - representing just the East Pilots. This immediately places USAPA in violation of its legal obligation as the exclusive bargaining representative of all US Airways pilots. The second statement is an admission that USAPA is violating its DFR by not representing West pilots.