Wants To Ban Practice To Curb Furloughs
Hoping to block American Airlines'
reliance on flight crews flying more hours to maintain schedules,
even as the airline moves to furlough 200 pilots, the Allied Pilots
Association sued the carrier Friday for the right to tell its
members not to work voluntary overtime.
The Dallas Morning News reports the union is "committed to using
legal methods for mitigating pilot furloughs," in the words of APA
president Captain Lloyd Hill. Some of the pilots slated to be cut,
as American works to slash its workforce by 7,000 jobs, are pilots
who came off furloughs within the past several months.
"Being furloughed twice in such a short period of time,
especially when it's so easily avoidable, would be a tremendous
hardship for these pilots and their families," he said.
American Airlines spokeswoman Sue Gordon would not comment on
the union's lawsuit, saying she had not read it.
Under current rules, pilots at American may work five additional
hours past their designated maximum of 78 hours. In July, the
airline proposed new guidelines that, under some situations, would
allow pilots to work as much as 95 hours a month.
For pilots looking to make extra money, that stipulation could
amount to a windfall... but the APA reminded its 12,000 members
those extra hours would come on the backs of their fellow pilots,
should the airline be allowed to implement the plan.
There's just one problem with APA's very public grandstanding,
however. According to labor relations expert John Budd, the union
might not be able to force its members not to work O/T.
"This is just a clever way ... of telling their members they
think they can forgo voluntary overtime without telling them
directly, which might be illegal," said Budd, a director of
graduate studies for the University of Minnesota.
Labor law professor Michael LeRoy countered APA's move is meant
to throw a wrench in American's plans. "It's an effort to
circumvent the airline's unilateral implementation of the furlough
policy and avoid the disciplining of pilots who refuse to work
overtime," he said.