As American Air Pilots Take Over, America West Pilots Seek Refunds

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- A day after the Allied Pilots Association became the representative of all 15,000 pilots at American Airlines (AAL) , pilots from the former America West Airlines said they will seek the return of dues accumulated by the union that had represented them at US Airways.

The America West pilots never liked the U.S. Airline Pilots Association, which was created to resist the impact of a 2007 arbitration ruling that generally favored America West pilots over pilots at the former US Airways.

USAPA ceased collecting dues on Tuesday, after the National Mediation Board ruled that APA -- which was twice its size -- would be the pilot representative. But USAPA said it would continue to represent its members during seniority integration, financed by the money it has in reserve.

"USAPA's officers seem to think they are entitled to keep millions of dollars in dues money, even though USAPA is terminated," said a former America West pilot, who asked not to be named.

"Effective immediately, USAPA no longer has the legal status of a collective bargaining agent," Leonidas wrote in a letter to members. "(But) USAPA is still in possession of a substantial amount of dues monies, collected from US Airways pilots for the purpose of collective bargaining -- a purpose which they cannot fulfill anymore."

In a letter to USAPA, a former America West pilot formally demanded that remaining dues money be returned to payers by Sept. 26, and threatened legal action if that does not occur.

Read More: How the American Air Merger Helped Charlotte, Philly and Fort Wayne

A protocol agreement between APA and USAPA, approved by both sides two weeks ago, specifies that USAPA will continue to represent its members in the seniority integration process.

The USAPA treasury will have "ample money to conclude its work," spokesman James Ray told TheStreet two weeks ago. If money remains when the work has concluded, it will be returned to members, Ray said. He declined to specify the full amount.

Also Tuesday, USAPA filed a declaratory judgment action in North Carolina state court seeking a judicial declaration that its decision to continue operating, funded by accumulated assets, is legal under its constitution.

"This declaratory judgment action was commenced because various statements and prior litigation made it clear that litigation over this decision was inevitable," USAPA said in an email to members.

 Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

To contact this writer, click here.

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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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