New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
A new captain's dream deferred
Nov. 9, 2008 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Mark Burman, a 10-year veteran of US Airways and an Ahwatukee resident, was promoted to captain last year and awaited training to move into the left seat of the cockpit, a coveted position that offers better pay and a pick of flights.
Burman's hopes of becoming a captain anytime soon have been dashed. The training classes were canceled, a victim of dramatic flight cutbacks US Airways announced this summer. Burman has enough seniority to avoid the layoffs that went with the flight cuts, but he's still facing a negative impact.
With fewer pilots and downgrades to people in positions higher than Burman's, his relative seniority among first officers of the former America West has fallen.
Where he used to have only 30 pilots bidding ahead of him for flights and vacation time each month, 70 now do.
Burman, 41, says that he and other former America West pilots wouldn't be facing layoffs, downgrades or delayed promotions if they had a joint contract with the merged seniority list from arbitration.
On that list, US Airways pilots who were furloughed at the time of the merger, some for several years, would be below all America West pilots and thus laid off before them and bidding for flights after them.
"This is all about the kids on the block that are getting bullied by the big guys," he said.
The bully, in his view: the airline's new union, the US Airline Pilots Association. USAPA was formed by and voted in by pilots of the former US Airways expressly to overturn the arbitrated seniority award in favor of a system based on a pilot's date of hire.
In September, Burman and a small group of pilots filed a federal lawsuit against USAPA and the company, seeking to stop furloughs, among other things.
"If we don't take any steps, we're going to end up thrown under the bus," he said.