Vicious Truths – Delta F/A e-mail Newsletter #8 June 26, 2001
IN IT FOR US?
If we were to join the afa, we would have to make some very serious and
expensive commitments. For example,
we’d be obligated to:
a year in union dues (to start) or lose our jobs.
our first amendment rights and refrain from saying or doing anything “contrary
to the best interests of the Union or its members.”
[Note the word “or.” What
that means is that we could say or do something very favorable to
the members, but still be “fined,
suspended, or otherwise disciplined” if it was offensive to the union
the afa veto power, and thereby control, over everything from the by-laws we
select to major decisions we would have to make.
the afa the right to call a strike, end a strike, or extend a strike against our
the afa to fine us or levy assessments we’d have to pay to keep our jobs.
the afa, at its discretion, to put us in receivership, remove all our elected
officers, take over our bank accounts, and have an afa appointed receiver take
are obviously major commitments. So, what commitment could we expect in return
from the afa? The answer is the afa
would have a duty of fair representation. “Fair”
is defined as “Just to all parties, equitable.” What does that mean? Would
we have legal recourse if the afa did not provide top notch representation? No.
Good representation? No. Adequate
representation? No! We wouldn’t
have recourse even if the afa failed to provide adequate representation!
Who says so? The U.S. Supreme
Following a strike in the early
80’s, a union member filed suit against his union claiming it breached its
duty of fair representation. A
District Court judge ruled against him, saying “the
agreement that was achieved looks atrocious in retrospect, but it is not a
breach of fiduciary duty badly to settle the strike.”
The union member appealed his case to the Court of Appeals.
That court agreed with him, reversed the District Court, and concluding
that the union acted arbitrarily because a jury could find that the
settlement ‘left the striking [employees] worse off in a number of
respects than complete surrender.’
The union then appealed that decision
to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in the union’s favor, agreeing with its
contention that “The duty [of
fair representation], the
union argues, does not impose any obligation to provide adequate
a union isn’t required to provide even “adequate representation,” what
then do union members actually have a right to expect from their unions?
Practically nothing! The
Supreme Court said, “…a union’s
actions are arbitrary only if, in light of the factual landscape at the time of
the union’s actions, the union’s behavior is so far outside a ‘wide range
of reasonableness … as to be irrational.”
In other words, unless
a union does something certifiably insane or hopelessly sub-idiotic, its members
have no recourse whatsoever! What
a bargain. And to think it would
only cost us $8 - 10 million in dues and fees every year for such great
Just in case anyone is wondering if
the Supreme Court’s decision sets a precedent for airline unions, rest assured
that it does. The employee who
charged his union with breaching its duty of fair representation was a pilot who
worked for Continental. The case
the Supreme Court decided was Airline Pilots v. O’Neill, 499 U.S. 65 (1991).
More specifically, the union was the Air Line Pilots Association – ALPA
– so there’s no doubt the court’s ruling would apply to the afa or any
other union representing airline employees.
RIP UP THOSE CARDS!!
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