Hope For Single Contract For US Air, America West Flight
Two months after the National Mediation Board certified the US
Airline Pilots Association (USAPA) to represent US Airways pilots,
on Wednesday the union initiated pilot contract talks with US
Airways Management that, if successful, will remove the major
obstacle in bringing the two airlines together.
No one denies that's a big "if."
As ANN reported, in April pilots at the merged
airline voted to leave the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l
(ALPA) and form a separate union as their collective bargaining
The move to form a new union came after a federal arbitrator
presented a seniority formula in June 2007 that based pilot ratings
on aircraft type, with pilots ranked by seniority within each group
based on their time at their respective airline, and how many
aircraft of that type are within the combined US Airways fleet.
Under the proposal, the top 517 pilots come from US Airways... but
the trouble lies when talking about first officer rankings, which
US Airways pilots said favored their younger counterparts coming
from America West.
The issue of pilot representation has been one of the most
contentious issues of the three-year-old merger. Bickering between
both sides over a single contract and merging seniority lists began
almost immediately after the May 2005 announcement.
The resulting dispute -- and accusations ALPA hadn't done enough
to protect the interests of US Air pilots -- resulted in the
formation of the US Airline Pilots Association, or USAPA, and the
call for decertification of ALPA at US Airways. Pilots petitioned
the NMB for a vote last November; the board signed off on the
election in February 2008.
Pilot negotiations broke off 10 months ago due to the disparate
pay and working conditions between the two pilot groups, which the
former bargaining agent could not resolve.
"We believe it's time for Management to complete the job it
started three years ago and conclude the merger of US Airways and
America West," said USAPA President Steve Bradford. "Although we
are hopeful, we will wait and see what Management does -- not what
USAPA represents over 5,000 US Airways pilots in seven domiciles
across the United States.