Here’s the latest missive from the Southwest Airlines’ pilot group, SWAPA, to its members. FAPA is the Frontier Airlines Pilot Association, the union that represents the Frontier Airlines’ pilots.
“It has been a whirlwind week for your M&A Committee. We have been in meetings with our M&A counsel in Washington Monday and Tuesday and quickly returned to Dallas on Wednesday for a pressing meeting with FAPA. We would like to bring you up to date on the Frontier transaction.
Weeks ago, the Company approached SWAPA for ideas on how to complete the Frontier transaction with our pilots’ support. We expressed our concerns about new federal legislation on the books (McCaskill/Bond) and its potential effect on pilot seniority at Southwest. The Company, at SWAPA’s request, included a “labor contingency clause” requiring labor agreements in place prior to the closing of the Frontier acquisition. This action took the possibility of binding arbitration out of play and protected our pilots from a harmful arbitrated seniority integration.
As the Company was developing their formal binding proposal to acquire Frontier out of bankruptcy, Southwest bankruptcy counsel expressed concern that the Southwest bid could be excluded from the auction process because Frontier legal counsel deemed the proposal “not qualified” for the auction process due to the labor contingency clause. However, the labor contingency clause would be deemed acceptable and the bid deemed qualified if SWAPA and FAPA reached an Agreement in Principle for seniority integration. That triggered negotiations Thursday between SWAPA and FAPA.
SWAPA’s concerns throughout this process have been to protect our seniority list and our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The only way to adequately protect our entire pilot group was to place the FAPA pilots below the SWAPA pilots on our new Master Seniority List.
FAPA’s concerns are:
- Job Protection
- Seat Protection
- Pay Protection
- Domicile Protection
FAPA’s position was for relative seniority with a “variable” for the ratio for integration. Clearly, meeting all of FAPA’s concerns would be an enormous windfall for Frontier pilots at the expense of Southwest pilots.”
Oh boy. Here we go. All of these concepts sound very familiar don’t they? Relative seniority. “Stapling” the Frontier pilots to the bottom of the list.
And this is supposed to be finalized with both groups signing off on it today??
Well, there you have it. Either there is an agreement in principle with both pilot groups as to the question of seniority, or it appears that the bid by Southwest will not be considered to be a “qualified” bid.
Do you suppose that Southwest knew this all along, and this is merely an anticipated ‘squeeze play’ made by the company, assuming that the “urgency” of the situation would prod both groups to an agreement before the clock strikes twelve? Or was this a surprise at the last minute to all parties concerned?