Bloomberg News

US Airways Pilots Ordered by Judge to End Work Slowdown

September 28, 2011

(Updates with judge’s conclusions in third paragraph.)

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- US Airways Group Inc. pilots were ordered by a federal judge to end a work slowdown that he said was designed to increase flight delays, cancellations and the carrier’s operating costs.

U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. in Charlotte, North Carolina, granted the airline’s request for the injunction today, agreeing that the US Airline Pilots Association encouraged members to call in fatigued, write up more maintenance issues, slow taxiing times and turn down voluntary flight assignments because of displeasure with the pace of contract talks.

“As a result of these tactics, there has been a significant decline in US Airways’ on-time performance that has harmed the company’s bottom line and its reputation,” Conrad said in the ruling.

The union, or USAPA, failed in its duty to try to stop the slowdown under the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline labor issues, Conrad said. The judge found insufficient evidence to hold union President Michael Cleary individually responsible for the slowdown.

Denying it backed the slowdown, the union said its actions were designed to highlight a “flawed safety culture” at Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways.

Charlotte Hub

Conrad’s ruling followed a two-day hearing last month in Charlotte, where the union is based. The city is also the airline’s biggest hub.

The union, which represents 5,200 US Airways pilots, has been in contract negotiations with US Airways since 2005 when it merged with America West Holdings Corp. Pilots for the two carriers continue to work under separate labor agreements.

“USAPA is reviewing the ruling, and at this time we have no comment,” Todd Fieser, a union spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“We are pleased the injunction has been issued,” US Airways said in a note to employees today. “This means USAPA must immediately stop all illegal job actions and make every reasonable effort to prevent any further illegal job activity.”

The airline’s case is US Airways v. US Airline Pilots Association, 11-00371, U.S. District Court, Western District of North Carolina (Charlotte).

--Editor: Michael Hytha, Fred Strasser

To contact the reporters on this story: Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net; Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net; Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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