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Former TWA pilots sue American and Allied Pilots Association

Discussion in 'Airline Pilots' started by Zapphod Beblebrox, Mar 11, 2017.

  1. Zapphod Beblebrox

    Zapphod Beblebrox Well-Known Member

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    http://www.dallasnews.com/business/...irlines-union-contract-dispute-lead-demotions



    Former TWA pilots sue American Airlines, union over contract dispute that could lead to demotionsFILED UNDERAMERICAN AIRLINES AT15 HRS AGO

    Three former Trans World Airlines pilots are suing American Airlines and its pilots union over their handling of a contractual dispute that could see at least 85 pilots demoted from captain to first officer.

    In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in North Texas, the pilots, now employees at American, requested a preliminary injunction to halt a grievance hearing scheduled to begin March 14.

    The case directly affects only a small number of American’s more than 15,000 pilots, but it helps illustrate the complicated web of contracts and protections spun by two decades of consolidation and bankruptcies. It also highlights the unending importance of seniority in an industry where pilots tend to stick with a single airline their whole career.

    The roots of the dispute trace back to 2001 and how TWA pilots were integrated into the seniority list after American acquired the airline.

    About 1,200 pilots were tacked to the bottom of American’s seniority list without credit for their time served at TWA. But American and the pilots union worked out an agreement to guarantee a limited number of jobs for TWA pilots at its former hub in St. Louis.

    Those protections changed after American’s 2011 bankruptcy and a subsequent renegotiation of the contract with the union, guaranteeing 260 captain positions on narrow-body aircraft and 86 captain positions on small widebody aircraft for former TWA pilots.

    But the protections were temporary and were set to expire when a single TWA pilot hired in 1997, Magnus Alehult, accrued enough seniority to become a captain on any aircraft in American’s fleet.

    Alehult hit that threshold in October, but only qualified for captain on American’s fleet of small regional aircraft acquired as part of its 2013 US Airways merger.

    The TWA pilots maintain that their agreement doesn’t apply to those lower-paying jobs on smaller regional jets. They also say the protections shouldn’t go away until Alehult qualifies for a captain’s spot on a larger narrow-body aircraft like the Boeing 737, where pilots earn as much as $82 per hour more.

    But three other American pilots filed grievances seeking to have those 260 protected captain jobs returned to the overall system, allowing any pilot with appropriate seniority to bid for them. The three American pilots who filed the grievance are all first officers who would stand to become captains if the change were made.

    According to the lawsuit, removing the protections would cause at least 85 former TWA pilots, including plaintiff Kevin Horner, to be demoted from captain to first officer and take a pay cut of $75 per hour because of their lack of seniority. Pilots are paid based on block hours, the time from when an aircraft door closes to depart and when it reopens upon arrival.

    The lawsuit said changes to the protected jobs also could force another 150 former TWA pilots to operate on reserve status outside their home base, which disrupts quality of life in addition to guaranteeing 15 fewer hours per month.

    American and the union have taken no stance on the underlying dispute. The grievances were expedited to binding arbitration for a resolution, with hearings scheduled to start next week.

    The lawsuit filed Tuesday accuses American and the union of skipping several steps in the grievance process, a move the former TWA pilots say limits their time to respond.

    American and the Allied Pilots Association declined to comment for this report due to the ongoing litigation.

    The lawsuit alleges the actions by American and the union violate the pilots’ collective bargaining agreement and the Railway Labor Act that governs airline labor relations.
     
    JetDoc likes this.
  2. learhawkerbe400

    learhawkerbe400 Well-Known Member

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    Tldr

    More fun times at AA.
     
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  3. typhoonpilot

    typhoonpilot Well-Known Member

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    These three are collectively known by the technical term "douchebags", DBs for short.

    The greed of my fellow man really knows no bounds. The TWA pilots were treated unfairly by the AA pilots right from the beginning of that merger. That one small protection from a complete staple job of the more senior TWA pilots will expire soon enough on it's own. With the current growth rate what are these DBs looking at? Perhaps another year as senior widebody F.O.s. Cry me a river, how unfair life has been to them :rolleyes:
     
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  4. Cptnchia

    Cptnchia Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. mrivc211

    mrivc211 Well-Known Member

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  6. AAPalmTree

    AAPalmTree Well-Known Member

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    I can't believe there are still AA guys that don't get what happened to the TWA pilots.
    Spot on typhoon.
     
  7. CirrusMonkey

    CirrusMonkey No Real Usefulness

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    Just as Doug Parker likes it.
     
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  8. Zapphod Beblebrox

    Zapphod Beblebrox Well-Known Member

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    Jeezee.... I am former US and so I really only know about East / West. I guess I am just a "can't we all just get along"..... I guess that's too naive..
     
  9. Kingairer

    Kingairer Well-Known Member

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    They will waste more money on lawyers than they would just waiting.
     
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  10. Crop Duster

    Crop Duster UNSUB

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    I sorta can't believe after 20 years (or 16 years, depending on the clock), there are still TWA guys (or anyone else hired that long ago) sitting as FOs! WTF, over? Half a career and they haven't upgraded yet?? WTF, over?
     
  11. gotWXdagain

    gotWXdagain Highly Visible Member

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    At some point they ought to at least be "made whole" financially, you know?


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk Pro
     
  12. Kingairer

    Kingairer Well-Known Member

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    They were basically stapled and furloughed after 9-11. So a lot haven't spent that whole time at AA.
     
  13. wheelsup

    wheelsup Well-Known Member

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    Met a guy a few days ago, after ~20 years he's below US Airways new hires hired a few years ago. What can you do?
     
  14. Zapphod Beblebrox

    Zapphod Beblebrox Well-Known Member

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    IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
    FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
    DALLAS DIVISION


    KEVIN HORNER, et al., Plaintiffs,

    VS. § Civil Action No. 3:17-CV-0665-D

    AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC., et al., § Defendants. §


    MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
    Plaintiffs Kevin Horner, Charles Hartman, and John Krakowski (collectively,
    “plaintiffs”)—three former Trans World Airlines (“TWA”) pilots who became employee-
    pilots of defendant American Airlines, Inc. (“American”) after American acquired
    TWA—seek a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) restraining the hearing of the arbitration
    of grievances submitted by defendant Allied Pilots Association (“APA”) on behalf of four
    other pilots.
    1
    The grievances relate to Supplement C to the collective bargaining agreement
    (“CBA”) between American and APA, and are consolidated for a hearing scheduled to begin
    on March 14, 2017 before arbitrator Richard Bloch (“Arbitrator Bloch”).
    2
    Plaintiffs have filed their own grievances related to Supplement C, and they contend that the forthcoming arbitration proceeding before Arbitrator Bloch violates the CBA and will irreparably injure them. The court denies the motion
    1
    In a first amended complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief filed today, Keith
    Bounds has been added as a plaintiff. Plaintiffs’ reply brief in support of their TRO, also
    filed today, identifies the original three plaintiffs as the ones seeking a TRO.
    2
    Arbitrator Bloch has been designated as the System Board under the Railway Labor
    Act.
    .

    I
    “To obtain a temporary restraining order, an applicant must show entitlement to a
    preliminary injunction.” Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. v. Wright
    , 1993 WL 13044458, at *1 (N.D. Tex. June 15, 1993) (Fitzwater, J.). “The same four-factor test for preliminary injunctions also has been extended to temporary restraining orders.”
    May v. Wells Fargo Home Mortg., 2013 WL 2367769, at *1 (N.D. Tex. May 30, 2013) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (quoting Asadoorian v. Travis , 2011 WL 2224984, at *1 (D. Mass. June 7, 2011)). A TRO is “simply a highly accelerated and temporary form of preliminary injunctive relief,” and requires the party seeking such relief to establish the same four elements for obtaining a preliminary injunction. Lee v. Verizon Commc’ns, Inc. , 2012 WL 6089041, at *1 n.2 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 7, 2012) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (quoting Hassani v. Napolitano , 2009 WL 2044596, at *1 (N.D. Tex. July 15, 2009) (Fitzwater, C.J.)). Therefore, plaintiffs must establish four elements to obtain the requested TRO: (1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,
    (2) a substantial threat of irreparable harm to him if the TRO is not granted, (3) that the
    threatened harm outweighs any damage that the TRO might cause the opposing parties, and
    (4) that the TRO will not disserve the public interest


    Under § 205(a)(5) of the E-Government Act of 2002 and the definition of “written
    opinion” adopted by the Judicial Conference of the United States, this is a “written opinion[]
    issued by the court” because it “sets forth a reasoned explanation for [the] court’s decision.”
    It has been written, however, primarily for the parties, to decide issues presented in this case,
    and not for publication in an official reporter, and should be understood accordingly.


    See, e.g., Jones v. Bush, 122 F.Supp.2d 713, 718 (N.D. Tex. 2000) (Fitzwater, J.) (addressing preliminary injunction standard) (citing Ruscitto v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., 777 F. Supp. 1349, 1353 (N.D. Tex. 991) (Fitzwater, J.), aff’d, 948 F.2d 1286 (5th Cir. 1991) (per curiam) (unpublished table decision)), aff’d , 244 F.3d 134 (5th Cir. 2000) (per curiam) (unpublished table decision).


    “The decision whether to grant a preliminary injunction is within the discretion of the
    court, but it is an extraordinary remedy that should only be granted if the movant has clearly
    carried its burden.” John Crane Prod. Solutions, Inc. v. R2R & D, LLC, 861 F.Supp.2d 792,
    794 (N.D. Tex. 2012) (Fitzwater, C.J.) (citing Miss. Power & Light Co. v. United Gas Pipe
    Line, 760 F.2d 618, 621 (5th Cir. 1985)). “A preliminary injunction ‘is an extraordinary and
    drastic remedy, not to be granted routinely, but only when the movant, by a clear showing,
    carries the burden of persuasion.’” Jones, 122 F.Supp.2d at 718 (quoting White v. Carlucci,
    862 F.2d 1209, 1211 (5th Cir. 1989); Holland Am. Ins. Co. v. Succession of Roy, 777 F.2d
    992, 997 (5th Cir. 1985)). “The decision to grant a preliminary injunction is to be treated as
    the exception rather than the rule.” Miss. Power & Light, 760 F.2d at 621.


    II
    The court finds and concludes from the record and arguments presented that plaintiffs
    have failed to clearly carry their burden of establishing a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.
    The court is deciding plaintiffs’ motion on the papers. Defendants responded to plaintiffs’ motion on March 10, 2017. Plaintiffs filed their reply brief on March 13, 2017,and the motion is ripe for determination . Plaintiffs acknowledge in their opening memorandum that this is a minor dispute under the Railway Labor Act (“RLA”). SeePs. Mem. 16 & n.1. Despite the grounds presented in their opening and reply briefs, however, they have failed to demonstrate that this case involves the “extremely narrow” circumstances in which this court has jurisdiction over a minor dispute. SeeInt’l Bhd. of Teamsters v. Sw. Airlines Co., 875 F.2d 1129, 1136 (5th Cir. 1989).

    As the Fifth Circuit noted in Southwest Airlines :
    We also note, however, that the proper grounds for granting an injunction against action that is the subject matter of a minor dispute under the RLA are extremely narrow. Such injunctions
    may issue only where necessary to preserve the jurisdiction of the grievance procedure, or where a disruption of the status quo would result in irreparable injury of such magnitude that it would render any subsequent decision meaningless. Id. (citations omitted) (citing
    Int’l Ass’n of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, Airline Distr. 146 v. Frontier Airlines, Inc., 664 F.2d 538, 541-42 (5th Cir. Dec. 1981)).

    In their reply, plaintiffs add a new argument based on the futility doctrine. But the Fifth Circuit case on which they principally rely, Parham v. Carrier Corp. , 9 F.3d 383 (5th Cir. 1993), does not address the district court’s jurisdiction under the RLA over a minor dispute. It deals instead with an exception to the requirement of § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act: “In the section 301 context, federal law ordinarily requires a plaintiff to exhaust grievance procedures established in a collective bargaining agreement before filing a claim in court.” Id. at 390. Parham does not add a futility exception to the rule noted in Southwest Airlines . And even if the futility exception could apply here, plaintiffs have failed to establish that the proceeding before Arbitrator Bloch is futile.


    Because plaintiffs have not satisfied one of the four essential requirements, “the court
    need not address the remaining three factors.”
    Lee, 2012 WL 6089041, at *6. Accordingly, plaintiffs’ March 8, 2017 motion for a TRO is denied.


    SO ORDERED
    .
    March 13, 2017.
    _________________________________
    SIDNEY A. FITZWATER
    UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
     

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