The Air Line Pilots Association settled its decade-old lawsuit filed by former TWA pilots earlier this week.
Under the settlement agreement, the union will pay $53 million to the pilots who had won their suit in a jury trial. The pilots alleged that the union did not adequately represent them during the seniority integration process after American Airlines' purchased the carrier.
At issue was how the pilot seniority list was merged with the list of members of the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American's pilots. While some of TWA's pilots were merged into the list, many were simply added to the bottom of the seniority list and ended up being furloughed after the terrorist attacks of 2001.
"With initial damages sought in the billions, this settlement, while significant, is far less than what the plaintiffs pursued. And because of our preparation and risk management, ALPA will make our portion of the payment without impairing our operations or services, without assessing our members, and without raising dues," ALPA president Lee Moak told members in a letter sent on Thursday.
ALPA said its insurers will pay a "significant portion" of the $53 million to the plaintiffs and attorneys.
Keep reading for the full letter from ALPA.
January 23, 2014
Fellow ALPA members:
ALPA goes to great lengths to plan for its future to ensure that your union remains strong in our defense of your career. Our risk management program and meticulous financial planning provide the necessary safeguards against unforeseen circumstances so we can seamlessly provide the services our members rely on and deserve.
Today, we settled a long-standing 2002 lawsuit. Some alleged that Brady v. ALPA, with initial damages sought in the billions, could impair our future. It won’t. In fact, the settlement we secured in the lawsuit, a case that has been in the courts for more than a decade and the subject of wild speculation, allows your union to move forward in a strong position and continue our work on your behalf. This is positive progress for you and for your union and will close a difficult chapter in ALPA’s history.
ALPA settled this case as a pragmatic business decision to preserve the long-term health of the union and is in no way an admission of guilt. The settlement agreement reached is for a fraction of the amount sought by the plaintiffs in the litigation and one that ALPA planned for and in no way affects our work on your behalf.
Despite speculation, the facts are as follows:
- Your dues will not go up. In fact, your dues rate went down on January 1, 2014 as planned.
- There will be no assessment of our membership. You bear no personal liability for the settlement.
- The settlement will in no way impair or affect ALPA’s ability to continue its tireless advocacy on your behalf.
- The settlement will close a difficult chapter in ALPA’s history, dating back more than a decade, that some alleged would lead to ALPA’s demise. That chapter and those riotous rumors are behind us now and ALPA remains strong going into our future.
Through diligent strategic and financial planning under the guidance of our elected governing bodies, our risk management program allows us to resolve Brady in a way that protects ALPA’s future. Our reinsurers will pay a significant portion of a shared payment of $53 million to the plaintiffs and their attorneys and we are currently engaged in discussions with the reinsurers that we expect will increase the amount of their contribution even more. With initial damages sought in the billions, this settlement, while significant, is far less than what the plaintiffs pursued. And because of our preparation and risk management, ALPA will make our portion of the payment without impairing our operations or services, without assessing our members, and without raising dues.
We have a settlement agreement and the judge now has to approve it. But the progress we have made on the Brady case allows your union to move forward in a strong position, without affecting our members’ financial obligations in any way. ALPA continues its more than 80 year history of never assessing our membership due to litigation.
To read more about Brady v. ALPA and how your union protects itself against litigation, go towww.alpa.org/brady, where you can read more about the history of the 2002 lawsuit, the settlement agreement, and ALPA’s insurance program, which helped to significantly defray ALPA’s financial obligation.
Despite unfortunate cases like this where pilots sue pilots, your union, under the direction and guidance of your democratically elected representatives, goes to great lengths to protect your career. At the bargaining table, in Washington, DC and Ottawa, and in scheduling with safety, we are your voice to ensure that your chosen profession is the safest in the world, and one that you can be proud of.