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:
“If the membership were correctly advised on the limits of fair representation that constrain the agreement—and all the collective bargaining of every union—then they would perceive no incentive to hold out for an improper bargaining objective. Judge Wake, Doc. 593 pg. 29]
But, the failure of third parties to do what needed to be done has not stopped - and will not stop - the former America West pilots from pursuing their rightful claim to the fair, final and binding Nicolau Arbitration which was accepted by Doug Parker on December 20, 2007.
To that effect, West legal counsel was compelled to file a DFR complaint on Wednesday in the Federal District Court of Arizona, naming both USAPA and US Airways as Defendants. You can read a copy of the filing here. In other words, Addington II is on.
Our case has been assigned to Senior District Judge Paul Rosenblatt, a President Reagan appointee. Although we believe Judge Rosenblatt to be eminently qualified to hear our case, West counsel believes that it would be best for all if our case was heard by a judge who is intimately familiar with the law of the case. There are two judges who have this prior experience, and those are Judge Silver and Judge Wake. Therefore, a Motion to Transfer was filed yesterday, which you can download here. In the Addington I case heard before Judge Wake, there were just three parties interested in the outcome: USAPA, the West and US Airways. In US Airways’s Declaratory Action case before Judge Silver, there were the same three parties interested in the outcome. Now there are three more parties added to the mix: AMR, APA and the AMR creditors. As we said above, the East/West seniority dispute is not of the West’s making. Pilot seniority was settled nearly six years ago through a binding arbitration, and we are very confident that in the end it will be this arbitrated seniority list that is integrated with the American Airlines pilots. USAPA was afforded some time by the Ninth Circuit to create an alternative which would not violate its duty to fairly represent all pilots, but as many predicted they were unsuccessful. Now, their time is up. In the words of Judge Tashima who authored the majority opinion at the Ninth Circuit in Addington I:
“By deferring judicial intervention, we leave USAPA to bargain in good faith pursuant to its DFR, with the interests of all members — both East and West — in mind, under pain of an unquestionably ripe DFR suit, once a contract is ratified.” Addington v. USAPA, 606 F.3d 1174, 9th Cir. FN 1
We look forward to presenting our case for what will probably be the last time. It is our sincere hope that all US Airways pilots will be able to take the one issue which has divided us and put it squarely in the rear view mirror. Every US Airways pilot has suffered by USAPA’s misperceived and unwarranted fear of the Nicolau. Despite the fact that it is actually the responsibility of union leadership to educate their pilots, the West has tried for years to respectfully explain to our East brethren that Arbitrator Nicolau blended two lists into one via a ratio method that placed all active pilots close to their original seniority on the respective East and West lists. Our attempts to elicit understanding have been constantly met with hostility. By finally ending this dispute with the East, we look forward to better days ahead for all and the West sincerely hopes that all parties can move forward collectively to build a “New American Airlines.”
Stay informed, stay focused, and keep the goal in sight.