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TheStreet Open House

Union Fight Ups Stakes at US Airways

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A new union will challenge the Air Line Pilots Association for the right to represent pilots at US Airways (LCC), likely triggering a bitter battle.

The US Airline Pilots Association said it filed a representation request Tuesday with the National Mediation Board. The group said it has more than 3,000 signature cards, and it expects to take over representation for US Airways pilots during the first quarter.

"Today's filing by USAPA begins the legal process to improve union quality for all US Airways pilots," the organization's president, Stephen Bradford, said in a prepared statement.

Before a representation election can occur, the National Mediation Board requires signature cards from a majority of eligible members of a bargaining unit. A simple majority is also required to win an election.

The effort to create a new union reflects the deep schism that developed after the 2005 merger of the former US Airways with America West Airlines. The bargaining unit will represent pilots from both carriers, known within the airline as "the east" and "the west."

Under ALPA merger policy, an arbitrator devised a system for seniority integration. Seniority is a key to pilots' careers, determining salary and schedules. Most of the approximately 3,200 pilots from the east strongly oppose the ruling, which generally favors the 1,800 America West pilots. In many cases, pilots at US Airways fall behind their America West counterparts.

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