Court Vacates Injunction for Allegiant Pilots Union

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Vacating an injunction against policy changes adopted by Allegiant Air, the Ninth Circuit found that the Las Vegas airline had no obligation to maintain the status quo that preceded the pilots’ formal union representation.
     Before Allegiant pilots voted to have Teamsters Local 1224 act as their collective bargaining representative in 2012, the workers had for years relied on Allegiant Air Pilots Advocacy Group to negotiate pilot work rules.
     Though the Teamsters had expected Allegiant to abide by the conditions already in place while they negotiated a new contract, the airline made several policy changes.
     One change concerned pilots who lose their medical certificate because of illness or injury, another eliminated pay protection for employees engaged in collective bargaining.
     The airline also altered the number of days new parents could take off to spend with their children, and it created a new scheduling system.
     The Teamsters filed suit to restore the rules, saying its predecessor qualified as a bargaining representative under the governing federal law, the Railway Labor Act.
     While U.S. District Judge Andrew Gordon agreed and enjoined the airline from implementing the rule changes while negotiating a new contract with the Teamsters, Allegiant claimed on appeal that the National Mediation Board alone makes the call on whether a group is subject to the Railway Labor Act.
     Though the Ninth Circuit found Monday that Gordon did have the power to determine whether the pilots advocacy group was a representative, as defined by the Railway Labor Act, it concluded that the lower court made the wrong call.
     Since the Allegiant pilots’ pre-union representatives never sought certification from the National Mediation Board as the pilots’ representative, “the pilot work rules were not a collective bargaining agreement under the Railway Labor Act,” according to the ruling.
     In addition to having never been certified by the National Mediation Board, the advocacy group never presented itself as anything other than a non-Railway Labor Act employee committee, the court found.
     “If a labor organization wants to be a RLA representative, it must demand recognition from the carrier; if the carrier will not give it, the group must seek board certification,”
     U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III, sitting by designation from Detroit, wrote for the court. “Because [the advocacy group] did neither, it was not an RLA representative,” he said.
     Judges Richard Tallman and Johnnie Rawlinson concurred.
     The matter is remanded for the Teamsters Local 1224 and Allegiant Air to continue negotiating a new collective bargaining contract.
     Officials for Allegiant Air and Teamsters Local 1224 were not immediately available for comment.

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