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Largest ALPA lawsuit and picketing

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Mar 14, 2002
News Release

Air Line Pilots Association Faces Largest Lawsuit in its 70 Year History as over 250 Comair Pilots Request to Join First of Two Lawsuits to End Union’s Predatory Bargaining at Delta Air Lines.

August 5, Cincinnati — More than 250 Comair pilots have asked to join a pending lawsuit against their union, making it the largest lawsuit against the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) in the union’s 70 year history.

The suit, captioned Ford v. Air Line Pilots Association, is the first of two planned lawsuits that are part of a grass-roots pilots’ movement to oppose ALPA’s efforts to restrict the growth and operation of Delta’s ALPA-represented subsidiaries, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) and Comair. The Ford lawsuit seeks to end the union’s practice of allowing the Delta pilot leadership to unilaterally and arbitrarily impose restrictions on the size and routes of Delta’s subsidiaries. The restrictions are widely seen as threatening the jobs and careers of those whom the union is also legally obligated to protect.

The lawsuit is part of a growing firestorm of controversy sweeping the union’s ranks as a growing number of pilots organize to resist ALPA’s practice of “predatory bargaining” by which the union’s most powerful members use their labor contracts to restrict the use of the immensely popular small jets (a.k.a. “regional jets”) and to unfairly manipulate the employment opportunities they create.

Other pilot efforts opposing ALPA restrictions include a campaign by pilots at US Airways’ ALPA represented wholly owned subsidiaries, Allegheny, Piedmont, and PSA Airlines, to protest job losses in the wake of a new ALPA agreement at US Airways by picketing Tuesday at ALPA’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C. The controversial agreement, unilaterally negotiated by ALPA represented US Airways pilots, diverts hundreds of new aircraft, otherwise destined for the wholly owned carriers, to a new 'preferred' subsidiary staffed by US Airways pilots. The agreement also provides that Allegheny, Piedmont, and PSA may receive some new aircraft, but requires them to lay off their own pilots and replace them with US Airways pilots.

Captain Daniel Ford, president of the Regional Jet Defense Coalition and the lead plaintiff in the first lawsuit said, “The decision by the Comair pilots is proof we are prepared to utilize every lawful means to prevent ALPA and the Delta pilot leadership from using the jobs and careers of the ASA and Comair pilots as bargaining capital to secure their contractual objectives.” Referring to the more than 250 new prospective plaintiffs in the lawsuit, he said, “This sends a powerful message that we will not sit back and allow ALPA to do to us what they have done to our fellow pilots at US Airways wholly owned subsidiaries. ALPA and the Delta pilot leadership must recognize that the union’s legal duty to the ASA and Comair pilots is a full time obligation that cannot be ignored whenever it is politically expedient.”

To put the magnitude of the litigation in perspective, the number of pilots involved is over six times the number of former PanAm pilots, represented by the same attorney, who successfully sued ALPA in 1992. Although the terms of the settlement agreement are sealed, it is widely believed that the litigation forced an economic restructuring of the union, including liquidation of assets and the sale of the union’s Washington D.C. headquarters building.

The objective of the litigation is to protect ALPA members from the international union’s harmful predatory bargaining and to compel the union to represent the ASA and Comair pilots fairly in the future. Shortly after the suit was first filed, the plaintiffs formally offered to waive all monetary damage claims if ALPA would agree to submit the dispute to binding arbitration, but the union’s leadership refused.

Now that the first lawsuit is well on its way, the RJDC and legal counsel will begin final preparations on a similar suit to be brought by the ASA pilots. It is expected that hundreds of ASA pilots will shortly commence litigation against ALPA.

The RJ Defense Coalition is a non-profit advocacy organization formed by ASA and Comair pilots to assist them in compelling ALPA to represent all its members equally and without discrimination.

Contact Information:

RJ Defense Coalition

Web site: www.rjdefense.com

E-mail: [email protected]
Sounds like a domestic's pilot's future is in RJ's, that is until they get ETOPS approval for it............
Anyone remember this much acrimony at ALPA, ever?

Regional Pilots To Picket ALPA Over Representation Rights

By Jim Ott/Special To AviationNow.com

05-Aug-2002 4:51 PM U.S. EDT

The growing split between mainline and regional pilots over union representation rights will flare up again Tuesday when a group of regional pilots are scheduled to picket the Air Line Pilots Association offices in Washington D.C.

The picketers, largely from the US Airways subsidiary Allegheny Airlines, are protesting ALPA’s alleged failure to properly represent their interests against those of the mainline US Airways. Specifically, they contend the Jets for Jobs provision in the pending US Airways contract being voted on by mainline pilots will leave the regional pilots undefended and possibly bumped from their jobs by those mainline pilots now on furlough.

The split in the pilot community was further accentuated Monday when 250 pilots at Cincinnati-based Comair allowed their names to be added to a federal law suit against ALPA by the RJ Defense Coalition over some of the same issues that have divided pilots at US Airways and its subsidiaries. The coalition alleges that ALPA has restricted the growth and operation of Delta subsidiaries, Comair and Atlantic Southeast Airlines, by imposing restrictions in the mainline pilot contract on the size of aircraft and routes operated by Delta’s subsidiary carriers.

The coalition claims that ALPA national, in endorsing the restrictions in mainline contracts, has failed to meet its moral and legal obligations to treat union members equally.

The RJ Defense Coalition’s complaint against ALPA has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Dan Ford, a Comair captain who heads the coalition, said the names of the Comair pilot plaintiffs will be added to that suit. The coalition is planning to file a second complaint on behalf of the ASA pilots, alleging the same kind of unequal treatment by ALPA.

Ford said the regional pilots are resisting ALPA’s “practice of predatory bargaining, by which the union’s most powerful members use their labor contracts to restrict the use of the immensely popular small jets and to unfairly manipulate the employment opportunities they (the RJs) create.”

Rick O’Leary, an Allegheny captain and spokesman for the local ALPA unit, said the regional pilots for the US Airways subsidiaries were getting “the bum’s rush.” He said the Allegheny pilot union had asked the mainline for authority to fly regional jets six years ago but the US Airways mainline pilots refused the request and also refused to allow a “flow through” agreement that would have allowed regional pilots to bid up to mainline status.

O’Leary said the picketing pilots are union members from the rank and file who are part of a last-ditch effort to dissuade ALPA president Duane Woerth from signing the US Airways contract, which the mainline pilots are expected to ratify this week. The ratification balloting will end at 3 p.m. Thursday. The outcome should be known by Friday.

ALPA defended itself it a written statement issued Monday. In general, ALPA said it gives wide latitude to its different pilots groups in negotiating contracts. ALPA said the US Airways contract calls for the mainline pilots to make several concessions, including a one-third cut in unit operating costs, elimination of a no-furlough clause, reductions in the large airline fleet and an increase in the ratio of regional jets.

“The purpose of these concessions is to allow the airline to go forward with securing a government loan guarantee, without which neither US Airways nor its wholly owned express carriers, including Allegheny, have much prospect of surviving,” ALPA’s statement said.

The Jets for Jobs provision in the pending US Airways’ pilots’ contract will allow US Airways to double the number of regional jets in its fleet from the current 70 to 140. The tentative contract provides that 100% of the jobs at a new wholly owned subsidiary, MidAtlantic Airways, will be filled by furloughed US Airways mainline pilots. Half of the regional jet pilot jobs opening at subsidiary carriers like Allegheny will be filled by furloughed mainline pilots.

US Airways has 1,070 mainline pilots on furlough. The Arlington, Va.-based airline is restructuring to trim up to $1 billion in expenses. It is making progress in negotiations for new contracts with unions, a necessary ingredient to obtain a tentatively approved $900-million federal loan guarantee from the Air Transportation Stabilization Board.

MidAtlantic will be based in Pittsburgh. It is the successor to Potomac Air, which ceased operations last October and was created to be the basis for DC Air, the airline that was to have spun off into the hands of Washington-based entrepreneur Robert L. Johnson if the merger of US Airways and United Airlines had been accomplished.

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