USAirways: Seniority Worth A Fight


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Seniority worth a fight

Nov. 9, 2008 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic

When US Airways offered Kim Mortensen his job back last year, the 59-year-old pilot was thrilled.

He had been laid off twice since joining the old US Airways in 1989, the last time in 2002. He spent the intervening years flying for smaller carriers and, most recently, as a financial adviser.

"I'm still hoping I'll get a chance to finish my career" at US Airways, he said.

Mortensen believes there is a way to increase his and others' chances of avoiding another layoff before retirement: Adopting a date-of-hire seniority system for the merged airline.

"It's the only functional way for us as pilots to get a handle on our career progression," he said. "If we don't do that, we will continue to be buffeted around by what both the economy and airline managers and these guys do in their back offices."

Since he was hired nearly 20 years ago, a date-of-hire policy would put him ahead of many America West pilots because that carrier, formed in 1983, started small.

Under the seniority list published last year by a federal arbitrator, he would fall far because it puts pilots on furlough at the time of the merger below active pilots from both airlines. America West didn't have anybody on furlough at the time of the merger; US Airways had about 1,700 inactive pilots.

Mortensen, an Airbus first officer based in Philadelphia, said that his not being at work at the time of the merger is irrelevant because that furlough was dictated by the events of the time. The new US Airways' recent furloughs are based on current industry conditions.

"We don't hold anything against the group that we're competing with to prevail here," Mortensen said. "It really has to do with grabbing what's right for ourselves as an industry. That's what we're fighting for."


The way I see it the only way the merger will ever be resolved is this:

Firstly, anyone that wants pure date of hire seniority integration needs to give up on that forever..

Current-Pre furlough positions must be permanently fenced and equipment locked between East and West. To make it simple, say there are 100 c/a slots on the 757 at Airways East as of right now, two guys quit..retire..fired whatever. The only pilots that can bid for those seats are Easties regardless of equipment, based on Eastie date of hire. Now, if after all furloughed pilots are recalled and Airways expands creating say 105 c/a slots on the 757 east then those new five seats are considered as new positions and go out for bid company wide. But to give all pilots a fair shot at "new" seats if say an Eastie F/O on the 190 wants to bid for that c/a slot on the 757 he then suspends his current Eastie seniority and joins a new seniority list which includes all post-merger new hires which he will certainly be senior to. His seniority number for the new seat will be based on date of bid and will follow him to any "new" seat that comes open system wide from that point on.

Now a few months pass, and three more senior 757 Eastie c/a's leave. Opening three "protected seats". That guy who was an f/o on the 190, now holding a "new" c/a seat on the 757 will move up into one of the protected seats leapfrogging any Westies that bid for the "new" seat before him. The Westies in the new 757 c/a seats keep their spot, and the Eastie keeps his relevant seniority.

The same holds true for the West side. This way all current seniority is permanently protected and eventually, through attrition, "protected seats" and seniority slots will dwindle down to where only the new seniority list exists.