In a statement following Tuesday's hearing, the USAPA declared that Silver's proposal "if it becomes final, will grant summary judgment to USAPA, holding that USAPA is free to pursue any seniority proposal, and need not advance the Nicolau award." Reaching out to west pilots, USAPA said that its attorney "reiterated that USAPA was prepared to engage in serious, genuine discussions with the west pilots over the seniority proposal, and was hopeful the parties would continue to work together to achieve a new comprehensive collective bargaining agreement." Added union President Gary Hummel: "USAPA stands ready to negotiate a contract for all of our 5,000 pilots, whether through a merger or otherwise. We are long overdue a contract that brings us up to par with our peers at other airlines such as Delta ( DAL) and United ( UAL). Now that this obstacle has been removed, we will immediately petition the National Mediation Board to resume Section 6 contract negotiations." Mark Burman, spokesman for Leonidas, an association of west pilots, called USAPA's statement "a gross overstatement and a huge disservice to the pilot group. "They are way ahead of the game," Burman said. "They want to say 'free at last, free at last,' but USAPA cannot legally evade 'the Nic' without a legitimate union objective and a modification to the transition agreement (between the carrier and its pilots.) This requires written agreement with the company. At present the company appears to know it has serious potential legal liability if it (agrees)."