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US Airways Wins Dismissal of Pilot Claims It Broke Labor Law

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March 8 (Bloomberg) -- US Airways Group Inc. won dismissal of a lawsuit by its pilots union that claimed the carrier violated federal labor law.

The US Airline Pilots Association lawsuit didn’t adequately raise a claim that US Airways failed to bargain in good faith and didn’t prove the court had jurisdiction, according to a ruling today by U.S. District Judge Allyne R. Ross in Brooklyn, New York.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of squabbles between the Tempe, Arizona-based airline and its pilots union that dates back to September 2005 when US Airways merged with America West Holdings Corp. USAPA claimed US Airways violated the Railway Labor Act, which governs airline-union relations, by changing contract provisions and not making reasonable efforts to negotiate a new agreement.

“The court concludes that plaintiff has not adequately alleged a claim for failure to bargain in good faith and has not made a sufficient showing of the court’s jurisdiction with respect to any of its other claims,” Ross wrote.

The judge didn’t rule on the merits of the union’s claims.

Flight Delays

“With this behind us, we are hopeful our pilot’s union will turn its attention to resolving the seniority dispute that must be settled before we’re able to reach a new collective bargaining agreement,” said Todd Lehmacher, a US Airways spokesman.

The union didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

In September 2011, a federal district judge in Charlotte, North Carolina, ordered US Airways pilots to end a work slowdown he said was designed to increase flight delays, cancellations and the carrier’s operating costs. The court agreed with US Airways’ claims that the union failed in its duty under the Railway Labor Act to try to stop the slowdown.

Pilots from US Airways and America West continue working under separate labor contracts because they have failed to reach agreement on combining seniority lists. Ranking on a union seniority list determines compensation, what model plane a pilot can fly and work schedules.

The case is US Airline Pilots Association v. US Airways Inc., 11-cv-2579, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).

To contact the reporters on this story: Thom Weidlich in New York at tweidlich@bloomberg.net; Mary Schlangenstein in Dallas at maryc.s@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net; Ed Dufner at edufner@bloomberg.net

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