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Obstacles Await US Airways

Among the many complications US Airways (LCC) suddenly faces after launching an $8 billion bid for Delta (DALRQ) is an increased focus on its uneasy labor relations.

That became clear Thursday in Charlotte, where about 400 uniformed pilots stood quietly, side by side, for two hours, demonstrating their frustration with the slow pace of labor talks that began last year.

Duane Woerth, national president of the Air Line Pilots Association and a union official for 25 years, said the turnout was the largest he has ever seen by non-striking pilots. Another 300 pilots staged a similar demonstration in Phoenix, the union said.

"If [US Airways CEO Doug] Parker can raise $8 billion, God bless America," Woerth said. "That means there's money for the pilots."

Even before the takeover bid was announced Wednesday, ALPA viewed US Airways as the place to begin to reclaim the ground it lost during five years of industry cost-cutting, as four legacy carriers negotiated contracts in bankruptcy court.

"US Airways was first in, and first out," Woerth said. "Their contract is everybody's contract. So we're bringing it on for this one. We have to get this one right."

While ALPA already provides staffing and legal support during local negotiations, the US Airways pilots -- including former America West pilots, who currently have a separate contract -- will get more visible support from the national union, Woerth said.
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