Laid-off pilots: Go to end of list
Nov. 9, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Afshin Iranpour has been laid off once by US Airways, after 9/11. Now he's scheduled to go through it again.
The big difference this time: He's a pilot for the former America West, the airline that merged with his ex-employer in 2005.
That gives him a unique perspective - and strong opinions- about the issues behind the bitter battle. He is one of six pilots who filed a lawsuit against the airline's new union and the company in September to stop the furloughs and find the new pilots' union guilty of not fairly representing the former America West pilots.
Iranpour, who joined America West in 2004, doesn't think it's fair that any of the pilots on furlough from the old US Airways at the time of the merger and since recalled get to leapfrog America West pilots such as himself under certain seniority systems.
Ironically, Iranpour says he would not be facing a layoff early next year if he had accepted a recall offer in summer 2007 from the new US Airways and headed back East to fly. He had been gone from the old US Airways for six years at that point, but the layoffs were governed by date of hire of the pilot per each airline's existing contract.
"I never ever believed that I had a right to come in as a furloughed employee who hadn't contributed anything to the company for years, to come in and bump so many guys on the West that have been working here full time for the past six years," he said.
Iranpour, who turns 39 Tuesday, admits his America West seniority is better than his old US Airways seniority under a merged seniority list drawn up by a federal arbitrator and believed by the America West pilots to binding.
He said he is fundamentally opposed to a combined list that puts US Airways workers out of a job at the time of the merger ahead of America West pilots.
"We took on the risks, and I think we should get the rewards," he said.
The arbitrator generally agreed with his and others' stance about the furloughed workers and put them at the bottom of the seniority list.
Iranpour finds it incredulous that pilots from the old US Airways are trying to overturn that decision through the new union. He said it was a no-brainer for the East pilots to push for date of hire at the outset of arbitration because their airline is so much older than America West.
"But for them to stick to it all the way through, and then after arbitration to try and fight it and throw it out, is just mind-boggling to me," he said.