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Letter from MDA Pilots to USAir MEC Chairman

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Cabin Heating & Air Tech.
Jun 5, 2002
I dont have a dog in this fight, but I think the E170 pilots -- and all of the junior/furloughed US Airways pilots for that matter -- have the right to fair representation from their elected leadership. US Airways ALPA has eaten its young for far too long. I hope that the MDA pilots turn the tables on them.

Dear Bill:

After reading the Code-a-Phone Jack posted Friday night we are
heartened that the MEC has finally taken a public stand on our
behalf. We are hoping that this might be the first step in a change
in the MEC's position on the MDA issues. Given the choice we would
prefer work from within ALPA rather than from the outside but we
feel we simply have had no choice. The MEC has failed to represent
us with much vigor and has, in fact, in some cases done more harm
than good.

From e-mails we have received, conversations we have had with
various members, from continuing discussions with some of the
excellent representatives on the MEC and from the lack of any action
on the part of the MEC it has become abundantly clear that the MEC
would prefer that the Republic purchase of the MDA operation close
and the 170 division go away. This would solve at least two
problems which immediately come to mind i.e., ridding Airways of the
onerous and foul Eagle contract and rendering the many legal and
representational problems arising from the 170 division being on the
mainline certificate moot. While we are sympathetic to the MEC's
position and concede that it is not completely without merit we feel
that the approach they have used in the past is not in the best
interests of the Airways pilots, the 170 pilots, the America West
pilots, the Air Line Pilots Association or even the company itself.

We feel timely action is called for and delay simply hurts the legal
position of the Airways pilots. Contrary to what has been said
publicly by at least one of the MEC members the sale of the 170
division has not yet closed and we will be happy if it never does.
The only beneficiary to the sale of the 170s to Republic will be the
Republic shareholders. As you know, after a short period of time
Airways has the rights to buy back the gates and slots that are part
of this deal. I'll bet you a night on the town that we will in fact
buy them back and end up paying at least $100 million for them, the
net result being one of the most expensive loans in corporate
history. Republic will end up getting the 170 operation for free
with its marketing agreement.

To simplify matters (and to keep this letter reasonably short) let
me list what we consider to be our most pressing issues:

• We think the sale of the 170 division to Republic is an
irresponsible waste of our money and we would prefer the deal not
• If we can't stop the sale, we insist that the airline do it
in accordance with the agreements they have made. In fact, our
current management has made a mockery of the collective bargaining
process, ignoring it completely. This must stop.
• The company is currently engaging in worker replacement,
which is a blatant violation of the RLA. ALPA needs to seek a TRO
immediately. Every day we wait weakens our case.
• The pilots that came to this operation from the Wholly-Owned
subsidiaries are tired of getting short-shrift. The company has
accepted that we are mainline pilots holding a mainline number and
is willing to give us the benefits that go along with that; this MEC
is currently negotiating to strip us of these rights and force us
back onto the CEL in the event of a furlough. This is a violation
of the integrity of the seniority list which is sacrosanct and runs
to the core of what ALPA stands for. If a CEL pilot can have his
number taken away then no one's is safe.
• On the same note, the CEL pilots at Airways should be
included in any snapshot as seniority list holders, participating,
in seniority order, in the merger with America West. Put
differently, they simply want the right to recall from furlough as
the mainline seniority list pilots they are. Again, the MEC is
actually negotiating to strip us of this right. This is just beyond

We shouldn't have to be pleading our case to the MEC. For better or
worse we've ended up on the mainline certificate; now we are you.
The MEC may think we're a separate entity but the company doesn't,
nor does the federal government. The precedents that are set with
us will have to be lived with for a generation or more. I know for
certain there are people on the MEC with enough experience in these
matters to understand this concept. The violations occurring here
should be fought as if our careers all depend on it. They do.

We would be willing to pull down the informational picketing and
work with the MEC on the resolution of these many issues if you were
able to convince us that the MEC were willing to begin to actually
work on our behalf rather than against us. In the meantime we have
no choice but to continue to defend ourselves and look out for the
interests of the pilots flying the 170.

To summarize, we are encouraged by the recently passed resolutions
in concept but are disappointed to see the same semantics that have
characterized this MEC's attitudes, such as, "if deemed necessary,
only authorized, as directed by the MEC, give consideration," etc.,
etc. Collectively they have a single meaning: stall.

We see no advantage in wasting more time. While the resolution on
Friday was a step in the right direction its wording shows that the
MEC still lacks understanding of the issues that confront the 170
pilots. Its tone, combined with the phone calls ALPA made to the
DCA and PHL airports attempting to disrupt our right to picket show
a level of arrogance on your part that we find very disturbing.
That type of behavior goes beyond the issues facing the 170 division
and gives us serious doubt that this MEC simply lacks the
sophistication and competence required to handle the upcoming merger
with America West. The pilots whom you represent should be gravely
concerned. We certainly are.

Best regards,
Here's the portion of the code-a-phone referred to in the letter:

Republic is now flying three EMB-170 aircraft in US Airways colors in violation of the CBA and LOA 91, and US Airways management has announced the imminent furlough of our pilots. The US Airways MEC passed a resolution on July 15th directing the utilization of informational picketing if deemed necessary, and the MEC today passed a resolution stating that the MEC supports only authorized informational picketing as directed by the MEC at sites of the MEC's choosing. The MEC has activated the MEC Communications/Strike Preparedness Committee structure in preparation for informational picketing at a time and place to be determined, with the message, plan, and organization of this operation to be briefed to the MEC no later than October 1st, 2005. The US Airways MEC also requests the president of ALPA to immediately order that all necessary legal action be taken including the consideration of injunctive relief prohibiting the operation of these EMB-170 aircraft at Republic Airways.
Can someone summarize what is happening in this struggle. Are MA pilots being sold up the river by US guys?

Is this US posturing to get better seniority integration?

Just curious and thank you for your responses
There is much more going on here than meets the eye. There is internal politics, external financing plans and maneuvering and other items too numerous to mention.

The sale of MDA to Republic was originally a scheme to get cash period. US was in chapter 11 and conditions were dire. Selling MDA would raise the cash cushion. The company knows that paying another company on a per departure basis and guaranteeing that company a profit does not hold up in the long run. As the costs of mainline vs. regional move closer, ie. the costs of operating e-170 / E190 series aircraft the operating margins converge. One must not forget the pay for departure format which guarantees a positive margin raise regional operating costs and the regional has no risk.

The company didn't want to get bogged down in negotiations and Republic management didn't want a fight with their pilots so they just inked the deal and started the sale. They felt that ALPA wouldn't squawk loud enough to place the company's emergence from Chapter 11 at risk and the deal would be done by default with the elements of seniority integration, jets-for -jobs, and other pilot interests would fall by the wayside.

After this deal was on paper, the AWA merger was announced and more investors got on board with financing.. The Republic cash was welcome but no longer critical. US ALPA was now in a position to challenge various aspects of the transaction with regards to seniority rights etc.
Please take note the US MEC does not challenge the company's right to sell MDA, that language is in the various LOA's that created MDA in the first place.
The disagreement is over aspects of jets-4-jobs, seniority integration, and number of jobs at republic for former US pilots.

The postings of MDA pilots on this and other boards was prolific and, in my opinion, right on target. The US ALPA MEC used the grievance process but remained largely silent to keep this out of the press and scaring off potential investors or suitors. I do not profess to know the dealings at the MEC level except to say that there are factions. There is a "hard core" group known as the RC4 or "Roll call 4". These members representing PIT and PHL, when PIT was a large base ,could use the Roll Call method of voting, ie voting the size of their bases to sway MEC decisions.

Now that PIT has shrunk and other bases are more numerous there are those who would say that the more company oriented and less "hard core" group labeled the "GAG", or "Give away Gang" and they now control the MEC. These labels are not mine and I am not solidly in one camp on another. Some of the GAG group are becoming more hard core as the company ignores the agreements we sign. MDA is one of them, profit sharing is another and there are other sections of the contract that present and past managements have simply ignored, before the ink was even dry on the agreement.

The grievance arbitration in this matter is upcoming and should prove interesting. My guess, and this is worth what you pay for it, is that MR. Parker doesn't want to unduly antagonize the pilot group and will try to use an unfavorable ruling by the arbitrator if an unfavorable ruling is forthcoming, to undue the Republic deal yet still keep Republic on as a US Airways express airline partner. But I could be wrong.

A woman contestant and Groucho Marx on You Bet Your Life:

Groucho: "Do you have any children?"
Woman: "Yes Groucho, we have 13 children."
Groucho: "13 children, My goodness!"
Woman: "Yes Groucho, I love my husband very much."
Groucho: "Well I love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth every once in a while."

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