A group of former America West pilots filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Arizona on Thursday asking for an injunction to prevent US Airways and the US Airline Pilots Association from taking any action to integrate pilot operations without using a seniority list set out in a previous arbitration.
If a judge rules in the group's favor, it could hold up the proposed merger between US Airways and American Airlines even though the group explicity does not name American's parent company, AMR Corp., or the Allied Pilots Association as defendants in the filing.
Represented by a group called Leonidas, the former America West pilots have been fighting for the implementation of what is called the "Nicolau Award" that included a seniority integration list for US Airways and America West pilots that did not use a strict date-of-hire rule.
"This action seeks an order enjoining USAPA from taking any steps to integrate pilot operations that does not implement the seniority order set out in the Nicolau Award," the filing said.
At the time the Nicolau Award was announced by an arbiter, US Airways pilots, who were unhappy with the seniority list, chose to decertify the Air Line Pilots Association as their union representation and formed their own union, USAPA, that became the bargaining union for all pilots at the newly-merged US Airways and America West airline.
America West pilots filed a lawsuit saying that USAPA was not fairly representing them by not implementing the Nicolau Award but a federal appeals court threw the suit out saying it was not ripe for legal consideration because USAPA and US Airways had not implemented an alternative seniority agreement.
In its filing on Thursday, the America West pilots argued that the legal issue is now ripe.
"This action became ripe on or about February 13, 2013, when USAPA, APA, US Airways and AMR entered into the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Contingent Collective Bargaining Agreement in which USAPA dishonors the Nicolau Award without any legitimate union purpose for doing so, in breach of its duty of fair representation," the filing said.
US Airways declined to comment on the legal action.
USAPA filed a motion on Wednesday in AMR's bankruptcy case, asking the bankruptcy court to prevent the former America West pilots from taking legal action to stop the merger. A pre-trial conference on that filing is scheduled for April 23.-Andrea Ahles