Monday, April 21, 2008

US Airways pilots replace ALPA with new union

USAPA logoPilots at US Airways have voted to change their union representation. The results of the union election vote were announced late last week by the National Mediation Board (NMB), which supervised the election.

The new union, the U S Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), will replace the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) as the collective bargaining agent for the more than 5,000 US Airways mainline pilots. According to an ALPA news release about the decertification election, the vote was relatively close. ALPA says, "There were 5,238 eligible pilot voters. Of them, 2,723 voted for the US Airline Pilots Association and 2,254 voted for ALPA."

Ever since US Airways and America West merged several years ago to form the 'new' US Airways, the pilots have been working under two separate contracts. Issues surrounding integration of seniority between the two pilot groups have been contentious. A little over a year ago, the pilots, represented by ALPA, sued to stop further integration of the two companies until a single, fair, unified contract was negotiated for its two pilot unions. A U.S. District Court judge threw out the suit. Subsequent arbitration between the two pilot groups failed to satisfactorily resolve the seniority integration issues.

The interim President of the new USAPA is Captain Stephen Bradford, a US Airways pilot since 1986. He says, “USAPA is ready on day one to begin a new era for all US Airways pilots, East and West. We will join the other great independent airline pilot unions on the national front, while our pilots enjoy single carrier union representation, solely focused on our pilots needs and fully accountable only to them.”

Noted on the USAPA website is the new union's merger policy, which states that "integration will occur by date-of-hire with reasonable conditions and restrictions to preserve each pilot’s un-merged career expectations." [Emphasis preserved from the statement on the USAPA website, not added by me.] I hope it works out that way.