Monday, December 15, 2008, 12:43 PM

Air Pressure

American Airlines pilots represented by the Allied Pilots Association have been in litigation with their employer since August 1, triggered by American's plans to place up to 200 pilots on furlough. In addition to bringing suit, the APA asked the pilots not to make known their availability for voluntary overtime - in other words, trying to maximize jobs by having their members forgo additional pay. American countered by claiming that the union's tactics violated the Railway Labor Act, since the parties are in contract negotiations and neither can upset the status quo.

Last month the union filed a motion in federal court in the District of Columbia claiming the campaign is legal, in spite of two earlier injunctions the company obtained against the APA in 1990 and 1999 to stop the same sort of tactics. Now American has replied, saying the union's actions risk grounding planes and jeopardizing its ability to operate. The company further argued that Delta was granted a similar injunction to bar a no-overtime effort by the APA. The union insists the Delta situation was different and that there's no impact on commerce.

For our readers, the point is that working overtime can be either voluntary or compelled, unless there's a contractual commitment preventing or limiting extra work. The twist here is that the union wants some of its members to give up premium payments in the interest of making work available for others (or, more simply, to force the company to make concessions). Watch this blog for further developments in Allied Pilots Assn. v. American Airlines Inc., 1:08-CV-01335 (D.D.C.)

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