Largest Pilots’ Union Violated Its Own Employees Says NLRB


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Largest Pilots’ Union Violated Its Own Employees Says NLRB

By Daniel Baxter

February 17, 2011 - National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Administrative Law Judge Bruce Rosenstein issued his decision February 15 in the unfair labor practice case filed against the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) by Unit 1. 

Unit 1 is the labor union that represents the professional employees that work for the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). 

Judge Rosenstein found that ALPA had committed all of the unfair labor practices alleged in a complaint filed in 2009 by the NLRB based on charges submitted by Unit 1.  

In Rosenstein ruling, the administrative law judge found that ALPA had violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it illegally laid off 12 employees and imposed changes to pay, fringe benefits and work rules before the two sides reached a lawful impasse in bargaining.

“This ruling confirms what Unit 1 has been saying for the last two years,” said Don McClure, Unit 1 president, “that ALPA acted unlawfully and has repeatedly ignored the law and the rights of its own employees.”  

In March 2009, Unit 1 filed a charge of unfair labor practices against ALPA management with the NLRB. The in-house union contended ALPA management failed to meet its obligation to disclose information requested by Unit 1 about ALPA’s plan to conduct employee layoffs in early 2009. Unit 1 also claims ALPA management failed to meet its obligation to bargain over the planned layoffs in violation of the NLRA.  

In a May 2009 move unprecedented in the half-century of the relationship between ALPA and Unit 1, management at ALPA unilaterally imposed changed pay, fringe benefits and work rules on their unionized Unit 1 professional staff after contract negotiations between the two failed to produce an agreement. Unit 1 filed a charge over this imposition of the changes without bargaining to impasse, which was then added to the complaint.  

The ruling, which can be viewed on the NLRB website, outlines several remedies including rescinding the imposed terms and reinstatement and make whole of the employees who were laid off.  

The Board estimates that the backpay ALPA owes the 12 Unit 1 employees who were illegally laid off currently exceeds $700,000, and Unit 1 estimates that it will cost ALPA well in excess of $2 million to rescind the unilaterally imposed terms.


“This type of intransigent behavior is what ALPA fights against on behalf of its members every single day,” said McClure. “For the world’s largest pilots’ union to flaunt the law in such an egregious manner is reprehensible. The law judge agreed with us.”  

The nearly 60 year old Unit 1 of UALPAPAE represents 168 professional staffers, including labor lawyers, economic analysts, retirement specialists, air safety engineers and communications practitioners at ALPA. ALPA represents 54,000 pilots at 36 airlines in North America.

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