Nov. 09, 2016
It’s been a long time since I have written to you. I want to bring you up to date on what is going on concerning the dissolution of USAPA. Yes, we are actually still here. As a result of the litigation between East and West, an injunction was issued by Judge Conrad in the Federal Court of Western District of North Carolina in late August of 2015. The terms and conditions of that injunction prevented USAPA from dissolving and distributing funds to the membership.
That litigation was settled by negotiation in late January of this year, subject to Judge Conrad’s approval. On August 30, a fairness hearing was held and the settlement between East and West was approved by Judge Conrad and he issued a final order approving the settlement. However, an appeal of Judge Conrad’s order was filed. That appeal has since been withdrawn, leaving Judge Conrad’s final order in place. The time for any other party or parties to appeal has expired so that all litigation between East and West pilots is now at an end. An order ending this appeal was entered on October 24, in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
A 5.5 million dollar payment has been made to the West pilots, as per the Judge’s order, and USAPA is now on the way to being finally dissolved. Two other issues of litigation remain. The first is a DFR lawsuit brought against USAPA on behalf of 63 East pilots formerly employed by Mid Atlantic. USAPA was not the bargaining agent at the time of the alleged acts by the Mid Atlantic group pilots. Because of this, and other reasons, we feel that this suit against USAPA is without merit and warrants dismissal. This suit was originally filed in New York State. The Company and APA moved to change the venue of the suit to Washington, DC and that motion was granted. Because of this change of venue, the Judge in New York denied USAPA’s motion to dismiss the complaint with leave to re-file in the Washington, DC court, which was done on October 28. The Karas plaintiffs requested additional time to respond to this motion, which was granted by the Court. Their response is due to be filed on or before November 28.
The second legal issue is an action where USAPA is the plaintiff, against our insurance company, AIG, for payment in some of the preceding litigation. AIG refused to defend and has refused payment and we are seeking reimbursement to the USAPA treasury. This litigation is being conducted by General Counsel, O’Dwyer & Bernstien, on a contingency basis. That is to say that, other than some filing charges and other incidentals, which will be paid by USAPA, the law firm is paying for this litigation and will share in the reward, if there is a recovery.
We feel that this is the best method as it preserves the USAPA treasury for a final distribution when we are able to do so. I also want to remind you that when USAPA dissolves the remaining balance in the treasury will be distributed to East pilots only, as condition of the settlement agreement. We anticipate the final payments will be in two parts. The first will be an amount determined to be excess to the required litigation costs and set-asides and the second and final payment will likely come with the final determination of the Karas or AIG litigation or settlement, whichever is later.
Finally, in closing, I am reminded of a song by the Grateful Dead, called “Truckin.” A line in that song states, “What a long strange trip it’s been.” That describes USAPA. Despite this long strange trip, with all its ups and downs, I am proud of what this organization has accomplished.
USAPA, by court order, had no direct input into the final seniority integration process. Despite adverse findings from the courts, an impartial panel of three distinguished arbitrators recognized at least some elements of the value of longevity and relative position on an existing seniority list. The unjust seniority award from our former bargaining agent did not stand up to the “fair and equitable” test. USAPA and the East pilots’ refusal to accept a contract with deeply flawed seniority award from that previous bargaining agent turned out to be a primary element in the construction of the new AA pilots’ seniority list.
USAPA helped navigate this merger, the largest in the world to date. USAPA helped negotiate the current working agreement. No one knows more than the US Airways East pilot that mergers are hard. We have been through more of them than any other pilot group and this one was a challenge because it was our company that was going away and we have had to make many changes to the way we relate to the new company. However, as we have seen on the line, the merger process is going more or less smoothly and I for one am proud to be a part of the World’s largest airline.
I wish I could give you a definite answer as to when USAPA will finally dissolve, but we are at the mercy of the Federal Court system and they set the schedule. However understand that USAPA’s current treasury drain, if any at all, is minimal. There are no full time or even part time employees. Neither of USAPA’s two remaining officers, Secretary Treasurer John Owens and I, are taking any flight pay loss or payment. We receive payment for direct expenses only, which are minimal. We seek to preserve and if possible enhance the treasury balance for your benefit, until we are finally able to distribute all the funds to our former East membership.
In closing, it has been my honor to serve you and it is my hope that USAPA will be able to dissolve as soon as possible as provided in our Constitution and Bylaws and distribute the remaining funds to you, our members.
Stephen H. Bradford
Feb. 11, 2016
Why are the officers invoking dissolution at this time?
As you are aware, since September 16, 2014, USAPA has no longer been your bargaining agent. The USAPA Constitution and Bylaws provides that decertification is a triggering event for dissolution of the Association, but it is not automatic in that the commencement date of dissolution can be deferred, if, in the judgment of the National Officers, circumstance exist, then or in the future, presenting a need for collective legal action including, but not limited to, representation in seniority integration proceedings. The National Officers exercised this constitutional authority on September 16, 2014 and deferred the commencement date of dissolution of the Association. The Officers also decided that no distribution would be made from the USAPA treasury to members at that time.
At the same time, USAPA filed a declaratory judgment action in North Carolina state court to seek a declaratory judgment ruling that the USAPA Constitution and Bylaws had been properly followed in taking this and other actions. West pilots opposed this action and filed an action in the Federal Court of North Carolina alleging that the Officers and BPR of USAPA had violated their fiduciary responsibilities as defined in the LMRDA.
The event that radically changed this dynamic was the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Addington that was handed down on June 26, 2015. The Ninth Circuit reversed the lower court ruling and held that USAPA had violated its duty of fair representation in the construction of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings, including entry of an appropriate injunction related to the SLI proceedings. On June 29, USAPA permanently withdrew from the McCaskill-Bond SLI process. Largely in view of that voluntary withdrawal from the SLI process, the North Carolina court then issued an injunction against USAPA prohibiting it from spending any money on seniority related activities, and that it not dissolve (principally as a way to prevent USAPA from making any distributions from the treasury).
Article 1, Section 3 of the USAPA Constitution provides the National Officers with the sole responsibility and authority to make a determination whether to defer the commencement date of dissolution. Similarly, the Constitution and Bylaws gives the National Officers sole authority to determine whether and when to rescind the deferral of the commencement date of dissolution. Because USAPA is no longer in the seniority integration business, and with the pending global settlement on all collective issues, the USAPA National Officers have determined there is no longer a need for collective legal action, and therefore the commencement date of dissolution will no longer be deferred. In accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws, once this determination is made, "the full operating authority of USAPA shall reside with the National Officers . . ." There are two provisos with respect to this determination. First, USAPA is not dissolving yet; it is simply entering into the phase of wrapping up its affairs to be in a position to formally dissolve the Association at the appropriate time. The Officers will continue to act under the Constitution, to dispose of the physical assets of the Association, prepare the final filings to the Department of Labor, federal and state required tax filings, make provisions for record keeping into the future as legally required, terminate the lease, and take such other actions to effectuate the responsible final winding down of the Association. Second, USAPA will not distribute from the treasury until approved by the North Carolina Court, as part of the process I address below.
After court ordered mediated settlement discussions, USAPA has reached a settlement agreement, which will provide a global settlement of all claims and counter claims between the parties in the cases pending in Arizona and North Carolina, that is, all remaining litigation. The agreement, if approved by both the North Carolina and Arizona courts, will also settle the question of attorneys’ fees in Addington cases as per the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
To continue litigation will continue to drain the organization. The only people guaranteed a pay out to continue a fight would be the attorneys, while the treasury would continue to bleed with little or nothing remaining in the end for the membership. With this in mind the officers have actively participated in the settlement discussions and have decided in the best interests of all the members to sign the settlement agreement on behalf of the Association in accordance with their powers as trustees of the Association under Article I Section 3 C and D of the USAPA Constitution and Bylaws. This global settlement agreement requires a “fairness hearing” and ultimate approval by the courts. Copies of the settlement, when in its complete form, will be provided to each pilot, East and West, including the schedule for hearing / hearings to be set by the North Carolina Court.
You can expect to see the details of the proposed settlement shortly and, as previously stated, the proposed hearing dates scheduled by the court.
Stephen Bradford, President
Feb. 09, 2016
NATIONAL OFFICERS STATEMENT
CONCERNING THEIR DECISION
TO RESCIND DEFERRAL OF THE
COMMENCEMENT DATE OF
DISSOLUTION OF THE ASSOCIATION
WHEREAS, in accordance with subdivision C of Section 3 of Article I of the USAPA Constitution and Bylaws, the National Officers have the sole and exclusive authority to determine whether the commencement date of dissolution of the Association should be deferred in the event a dissolution triggering event occurs; and
WHEREAS, said deferral determination is based upon the judgment of the National Officers as to whether, presently or in the future, a “need exists for collective legal action on behalf of the pilots of the former US Airways, including, but not limited to representation and seniority integration proceedings”; and
WHEREAS, further pursuant to subdivision C of Section 3, Article I of the USAPA Constitution and Bylaws, the National Officers have the sole authority to determine that there is no longer a need for collective legal action, upon which determination and at which time the commencement date of dissolution of the Association is no longer deferred; and
WHEREAS, by Statement dated September 16, 2014, the National Officers set forth their determination to defer the commencement date of dissolution of the Association in that “existing circumstances present, or may present in the future, the need for collective legal action on behalf of the pilots of the former US Airways, including, but not limited to representation and seniority integration proceedings”; and
WHEREAS, the National Officers have now determined that there is no longer a need for collective legal action on behalf of the pilots of the former US Airways, including, but not limited to representation and seniority integration proceedings” as a consequence of which there is no longer a need to defer the commencement date of dissolution; and
WHEREAS, in taking this action, the National Officers make clear that by this action the Association is not dissolved and no distributions are being made as of this time;
NOW, THEREFORE, the National Officers state as follows:
FIRST: In accordance with the powers granted to them in the USAPA Constitution and Bylaws, including but not limited to Article I, Section 3 thereof, the National Officers have determined that there is no longer a need for collective legal action and therefore the September 16, 2014 deferral of the commencement date of dissolution of the Association is rescinded.
SECOND: In accordance with the powers granted to them in the USAPA Constitution and Bylaws, including but not limited to Article I, Section 3 thereof, the National Officers, acting as agents for the membership, will commence the process of winding up the affairs of the Association, including but not limited to disposition of the physical assets of the Association in anticipation of final dissolution.
THIRD: The National Officers unequivocally declare that USAPA is not presently dissolved and will not dissolve unless and until permitted to do so by Judge Conrad.
FOURTH: The National Officers unequivocally declare that USAPA will not make any distributions from the USAPA treasury unless and until authorized to do so by Judge Conrad.
Steve Bradford, President
President’s Update: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
Aug. 25, 2015
Yesterday, August 24, we received news that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to hear USAPA’s request for an en banc session where the case would be heard before all the judges of a court. (Click here to view the Order.) The only avenue remaining would be an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, which is under consideration.
USAPA will be defending itself against what we feel are extraordinary claims of attorney’s fees and unspecified damages arising from the recent filing in North Carolina. The last amended complaint was for unspecified damages to be proven at trial, and to date, USAPA does not know what that will entail.
The USAPA Officers will continue to focus on the constitutional responsibilities to the membership, and the efficient resolution to all outstanding legal issues.
Jul. 11, 2015
Yesterday, on behalf of USAPA, the law firm of Baptiste and Wilder, filed an en banc petition with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. As you are aware on June 26th, the 9th Circuit reversed the Phoenix District Court decision in Addington II. While en banc appeals are “not favored” as described in the 9th Circuit’s web site, they are a part of appellate procedure to “correct” a decision where it may conflict with prior decisions of the 9th Circuit, other Circuits, the Supreme Court, or may be an issue of exceptional importance. USAPA maintains that this decision, reversing the lower court, is in conflict with previous Supreme Court decisions and decisions of the 9th Circuit and other Circuits.
Your BPR has placed its trust in a very experienced law firm. A Senior Partner in this firm, Roland Wilder, Jr., was the Professional Negotiator for USAPA for the MOU, the contractual issue that brings his case and appeal to fruition. Roland was involved in all the negotiations with the Company and the Unsecured Creditors Committee. He is uniquely qualified to advocate for USAPA on our appeal because of his intimate knowledge of these negotiations and experience with the Railway Labor Act.
Jun. 30, 2015
The recent ruling of the 9th circuit and the timing of that ruling was a complete surprise to your Officers and BPR. While we are just beginning to assess the ramifications of the ruling, we can take some solace in the dissent written by Judge Wallace Tashima, a very senior member of the court, who uses the word “erroneous” 10 times in his dissent when referring to the decision of the majority. We have come too far to stand idly by without asserting our rights of appeal and review.
Your Officers, BPR, and General Counsel had an informational conference call at 8:00 pm last night. The call lasted almost three hours. The primary focus of the discussion was the recent ruling from the 9th Circuit and its effect on the SLI process. First and foremost, USAPA will seek review of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling in a procedure called petition for rehearing and rehearing en banc. The petition for rehearing is addressed to the same panel that decided the case and presents an opportunity to show the court that it overlooked or misunderstood a point of fact or law that affected the outcome of the decision. A petition for rehearing en banc is a request for the decision in the case to be reviewed by a larger panel of judges who sit on that court. In the Ninth Circuit an en banc review panel will be comprised of the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit and 10 other judges selected by the Chief Judge. A petition for writ of certiorari for the Supreme Court to hear the case can also be made, which, if granted, will mean that the Supreme Court will hear the case.
May. 18, 2015
With the first few weeks behind us, your newly elected volunteer USAPA Officers thank you for your continued support of the Association’s ongoing activities. With seniority integration at the forefront, we continue to focus on supporting all US Airways pilots and the USAPA Merger Committee through this important process. As mandated by the USAPA Constitutional deferral of dissolution, we want to be clear that our primary objective is to responsibly manage the USAPA treasury consistent with the determination that there are ongoing matters (i.e. collective legal actions) that must be supported, maintained, and reserved for, including, but not limited to, the SLI process and legal actions in which USAPA is a defendant.
This update will outline several ongoing activities as we move towards an eventual dissolution.
As of Wednesday, May 13, an independent accounting firm began an audit of the USAPA 2014 fiscal year’s activities. We will report the audit results to the BPR and the membership in the near future.
Simultaneously, with the assistance of our auditors, we will prepare a full disclosure report of the treasury usage since decertification, and a complete business plan for the use of resources going forward. We anticipate delivering this report to the membership by July.
Joint Secretary-Treasurers' Message
Sep. 19, 2014
Dues Check-Off (DCO) ended for USAPA on September 16, 2014. APA requires you to be on Dues Check-Off in order to become an APA member. To become an APA member, you have to register your email, complete the application and check the DCO box. APA Membership applications are available online at https://mbrapp.alliedpilots.org/. APA members can expect DCO to begin on your October 30th paycheck.
Vice President's Message
Sep. 17, 2014
Fellow US Airways Pilots,
Yesterday was the culmination of a journey that started in early 2007. After many of us saved our company with draconian concessions arising from two bankruptcies, US Airways pilots, both east and west, seemed to be under attack by our own bargaining agent who wasn’t there to help us through troubled times. Many of us had lost our pensions; had become the lowest paid in the industry; and as for our fleet, we were a mere shadow of what we once were.
As a single line pilot I could not do anything about the economy, the loss of our pension, the two bankruptcies, the price of oil, or the airline industry in general. I could do something about our bargaining agent. I could attempt to remove them. I could attempt to remove them because the largest Airline Pilot Union on earth could not seem to give me a coherent answer as to where my pension went. The largest Airline Pilot Union on earth could, without my vote or consent, determine that my then 22 years of service at my company was not worth anything in determining my place on an integrated seniority list, or help us come up with a solution to the problem. I could attempt to remove them because the current President of the largest Airline Pilot Union on earth, then a competitor airline MEC Chairman, said in recorded testimony: “We stood in this room and stated it would be better for the industry if US Airways went away.” Why were I and my fellow pilots still a member of this organization which now seemed hostile to our very existence? I decided to embark on the battle of taking on the largest Airline Pilot Union on earth, and with your support we won that battle.