US Airways-America West Seniority Dispute Gets Court Date

By Paul Riegler on 9 August 2013
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A US Airways jet in Seattle

A US Airways jet in Seattle

The ongoing dispute between pilot groups at US Airways may finally draw to a close in late September.  Since the merger of US Airways and America West, pilots from the two airlines have been unable to agree on a seniority list.

Eight years after its merger, US Airways, which announced plans to merge with American Airlines on February 14 of this year, still has two separate pilot groups. Pilots from US Airways are known as “the east,” while pilots from America West are “the west.”

Roslyn Silver, chief judge of the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, has ordered a hearing in a case brought by pilots from the former America West.  The group alleges that the U.S. Airline Pilots Association, which represents US Airways pilots, does not fairly represent them.

In her order setting the date, Silver wrote that “[T]he west pilots, US Airways, and AMR all stress that allowing the dispute between the west pilots and USAPA to continue to fester would introduce substantial uncertainty into the merger process. That uncertainty would frustrate a primary purpose of the merger – the immediate orderly integration of the two airlines’ operations.”

The airline’s pending merger with American means that the time to resolve the long-standing dispute has come, she said.  Using a baseball analogy and referencing two prior suits relating to seniority list integration, Silver wrote that “the prior two suits were dismissed as not ripe, and the pilots may fear a strikeout. Here, though, the pilots’ claim puts them on first base.”

The issue became ripe, Silver explained, because of the memorandum of understanding that the US Airways pilots’ union entered into with the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots.  The MOU calls for the establishment of a seniority list under the process established by the McCaskill-Bond Amendment.  Silver indicated she views the MOU as a collective bargaining agreement that was ratified by all USAPA members.


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