ATLANTA, GA—- The Delta Master Executive Council (MEC), a unit of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), announced today that an arbitrator has partially granted the union’s grievance challenging management’s furlough of Delta pilots.
The Delta Pilots System Board of Adjustment, chaired by arbitrator Richard Bloch, found that negative economic conditions, rather than the events of September 11 or “force majeure,” were the principal cause of the company’s decision to continue furloughing pilots. Based on this finding, the Board ordered the company to immediately cease further furloughs. Consequently, the announced March 2, 2003 furlough of 20 pilots was cancelled. As of January 31, 2003, there are 1,060 Delta pilots on furlough.
The Board, however, declined ALPA’s request to order a recall of all furloughed pilots. Instead, the Board required Delta to recall furloughed pilots at the point that Delta system-wide Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs) during any four-month period equal or exceed the RPMs for the same four-month period immediately prior to September 11, 2001 with certain RPM adjustments. At that point, all pilots still on furlough and protected by the no-furlough provision are to be recalled on a schedule dictated by the standard training process. For this purpose, system-wide means Delta and all Delta Connection flying.
“ALPA is pleased that the System Board has agreed with ALPA that the company cannot continue furloughing pilots,” said Capt. William C. Buergey, Delta MEC chairman. “While we are disappointed that there is no immediate recall of currently furloughed pilots, we are also satisfied that the ruling provides a mechanism for returning furloughed pilots to the cockpit, and that this method does not depend on the company’s decisions.”
ALPA initially presented its case challenging management’s use of force majeure to the System Board in February 2002 and received a ruling in April 2002 allowing furloughs to continue. However, in this ruling, the arbitrator allowed ALPA an opportunity to re-submit its case, which occurred in October 2002.