US Airways’ pilots protest pay and the slow pace of contract talks

The US Airline Pilots Association (USAPA), representing the pilots of US Airways (Phoenix) are picketing at the Philadelphia International Airport today (September 8) to bring attention to what it believes to be US Airways’ deliberate efforts to drag out contract negotiations since 2005, while benefiting from paying its pilots the lowest wages among the major airlines.

In September 2005, US Airways and America West Airlines announced a merger of the two carriers. In USAPA’s view, that attempt at consolidation has not gone smoothly.

Because of the separate pilot contracts, US Airways is really two airlines (East and West) operating under the same brand but the flight crews and aircraft are not mixed.

According to the union, the US Airways pilots entered contract negotiations with management in November 2005 under the terms of a Transition Agreement at the time of the US Airways-America West merger. In April 2009, USAPA requested a National Mediation Board (NMB) facilitator to assist the parties in reaching an agreement, but US Airways rejected that proposal. In November 2009, USAPA applied directly to the NMB for federally-mediated talks. The NMB granted that request in January 2010. NMB-mediated contract negotiations are currently ongoing.

USAPA believes that, should US Airways management fail to adequately address the pilots’ concerns, contract talks could reach an impasse and end in a self-help situation.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Belonging to the East fleet, Airbus A319-112 N733UW (msn 1205), dressed in the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers brand, taxies to the runway at Charlotte. The NFL begins a new football season on September 9.