A federal court has granted United Airlines’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) and four individual pilots, for putting a halt to “a deliberate, organized and unlawful campaign of sick leave abuse, pilot intimidation and other actions that resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights, inconvenienced thousands of customers and cost United millions of dollars in lost revenues.” The court determined that ALPA’s actions were in violation of the Railway Labor Act, which governs labor relations in the U.S. airline industry. United filed the lawsuit seeking relief from the court on July 30, 2008.
In its ruling, the court found that the public interest mandates that ALPA cannot organize and support activity designed to disrupt United’s operations and also must exert every reasonable effort to stop any organized disruption that occurs. With a preliminary injunction in place, the company will seek a permanent injunction to conclude the process.
“This is an important ruling because it means our customers and employees will not be subject to ALPA’s illegal actions intended to disrupt our operations and intimidate our employees. We will continue to be decisive and proactive in taking all steps necessary to ensure the success of our company for the benefit of all of our stakeholders,” said Pete McDonald, executive vice president and chief administrative officer.
McDonald said the company pursued other possible resolutions - at significant financial cost - before pursuing litigation, including increasing reserve pilot staffing and negotiating with ALPA to modify certain work rules in the current agreement.
The Air Line Pilots Association has denied encouraging the actions, which are barred under airlines’ labour laws.