US Airways Management Agrees to Expedited Arbitration After Flight Attendants File Lawsuit
January 9, 2004
Washington, DC - After the union that represents the US Airways flight attendants (the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO) filed a lawsuit to stop the illegal process used in the involuntary furlough of 552 flight attendants, airline management agreed to expedited arbitration to resolve the issue.
"We already fought this battle with management once and won," said AFA US Airways Master Executive Council President Perry Hayes. "Management could make the operation of its airline a lot easier by working with its employees on tough issues, rather than fighting us on everything."
In December, US Airways management announced that it was involuntarily furloughing 552 flight attendants. According to the collective bargaining agreement between AFA and US Airways, before flight attendants are involuntarily furloughed, the airline must first offer a voluntary furlough. Once, during a furlough in June 2003, management attempted to by-pass the voluntary process but was ultimately forced to follow the contract after an arbitrator ruled in favor of the flight attendants in an expedited process.
"Management agreed to this voluntary process as part of the restructuring contract in which flight attendants sacrificed over $101 million per year to help save this airline," Hayes said. "It's in particularly bad taste for airline management to break the deal in which the flight attendants gave so much to the airline at the expense of their own families."
On Jan. 8 AFA filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. After the suit was filed, management agreed to expedited arbitration of the dispute.
The arbitration will be heard on Jan. 14 before any of the furloughs begin. If AFA prevails, US Airways will have to first offer a voluntary furlough before anyone is involuntarily put on the street. If not enough flight attendants apply for a voluntary furlough then the remaining furloughs will be made through the involuntary process.
More than 45,000 flight attendants, including the 5,200 flight attendants at US Airways, join together to form AFA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is an affiliate of the 700,000 member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO.