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Pilots' suit against airlines dismissed

A United States district judge recently dismissed business litigation aimed at a major airlines company used by travelers in Michigan and throughout the country. The proposed lawsuit stemmed from controversy over employment contracts between the company -- US Airways Group Inc. -- and its pilots union.

The company's pilots union claimed that the company made changes to contract provisions and then did not make a legitimate effort to form a new agreement with the group. This, according to the pilots, was a direct violation of the Railway Labor Act, an act that regulates the relationship between an airline and their unions.

A district judge located in Brooklyn, New York granted US Airways Group Inc.'s request to have the lawsuit dismissed. The judge cited the fact that the pilots did not prove that airline officials did not bargain in good faith. The pilots also were unsuccessful in proving that the court had jurisdiction in the case, according to the judge.

Airline officials voiced hopes that the pilots union would shift their focus to a seniority dispute currently gripping the group. That issue must be settled in order for both sides to hatch a new collective bargaining agreement.

No members of the pilot union immediately offered a comment to media on the matter.

This was just the latest chapter in a long history that has witnessed these two sides at odds. The issues date back all the way to September of 2005 when US Airways Group Inc. merged with America West Holdings Corp. The two sides were unable to strike an agreement with combing seniority lists. As a result, pilots for each company are still working under separate labor contracts.

Late last year, pilots with US Airways intentionally staged a work slowdown to force flight delays and cancellations while increasing the company's operating costs. A judge ordered the pilots to stop the behavior and US Airways highlighted the fact that the pilots union did not step in a put an end to it as they should have.

Source: Bloomberg, "US Airways wins dismissal of pilot claims it broke labor law," Thom Weidlich and Mary Schlangenstein, March 8, 2012

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