February 5, 2001
Court Denies Atlas Air’s Request for Rehearing of Decisionthat Atlas Violated Labor Laws by Cutting Crewmember Pay
WASHINGTON, D.C -- The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has unanimously rejected Atlas Air’s request for a rehearing of the Court’s decision that found Atlas Air violated the Railway Labor Act when it immediately instituted a large, retaliatory pay cut in response to the decision of its cockpit crewmembers to join the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA).
A three-judge panel had issued its decision on November 21, 2000, finding that "Atlas Air violated the [Railway Labor Act] by dramatically cutting the take-home pay of its cockpit crewmembers for the sole reason that they exercised their statutory right to unionize." The Court had also rejected Atlas’ arguments that the airline was free to cut the crewmembers’ wages because changes in the "status quo" are permissible before an initial contract is in place.
Atlas Air had sought a rehearing by the same three-judge panel, or by the full nine-judge Court of Appeals. The Court’s denial of the request for a rehearing upholds the finding that an employer’s right to make changes to working conditions prior to a first agreement does not give it the right to take actions that undermine employee and union rights.
The unanimous decision also brings the Atlas crewmembers one step closer to collecting the back-pay that is owed to them. The case has been sent back to the District Court for further proceedings, presumably to determine the remedy, including full back pay for Atlas’ ALPA-represented crewmembers. The back-pay liability likely totals in the tens of millions of dollars.
"We are extremely pleased that the court has upheld this decision," said Captain Greg Amussen, chairman of the ALPA unit at Atlas Air. "We have always believed that Atlas was acting against the law when they took away our profit-sharing plan in April 1999, in retaliation for our joining a union. The Court’s denial of a rehearing reaffirms our belief that such retaliatory measures cannot be tolerated and that management does not have a free hand in its efforts to intimidate workers."
Atlas Air — the world’s third largest cargo carrier — is a U.S.-certificated air carrier operating the world’s largest fleet of Boeing-747 freighters under contracts that provide for the aircraft, crews, maintenance, and insurance to many of the world’s leading international carriers.
ALPA has represented the approximately 850 Atlas crewmembers since they voted for ALPA representation in April 1999. Formed in 1931, ALPA is the world’s oldest and largest pilots union, representing 59,000 pilots at 49 airlines in Canada and the United States.
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ALPA Contact: Teresa Mattick, (703) 481-4463