US Airways Pilot Group Bows Out of American Air Seniority Talks

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --The US Airline Pilots Association, chastened by an unfavorable U.S. Appeals Court ruling, said its merger committee will withdraw from negotiations intended to create a pilot seniority list at American Airlines ( AAL).

The 2-1 ruling Friday by a panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Appeals Court determined that USAPA violated its duty of fair representation to former America West pilots. The ruling said that to participate in seniority negotiations, USAPA would have to back a controversial 2007 seniority list compiled by arbitrator George Nicolau, even though the primary basis for USAPA's creation was to ensure the list was never implemented.

In his dissent to the appeals court ruling, U.S. District Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima called the Appeals Court requirement "erroneous and an abuse of discretion."

In a letter to the three arbitrators who will oversee pilot seniority integration at American, William Wilder, an attorney representing USAPA, wrote Monday that because of the ruling, the USAPA merger committee "cannot be an adequate representative of US Airways (East) pilots and must withdraw from this proceeding."

Wilder indicated the withdrawal creates a situation that seems to violate the federally mandated McCaskill-Bond protocols that define the seniority integration process that applies following the 2013 merger of American and US Airways.

US Airways east pilots "have a statutory right as 'covered employees' under the McCaskill-Bond Amendment to a representative who is free to formulate a position that is in {their} best interest," Wilder wrote. The two other employee groups -- American pilots and pilots from the former America West -- have representatives "who are unrestricted in the positions they are permitted to take," he wrote.

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