Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Twelve Traditions of the DPA

Maybe these could be The Twelve Traditions of DPA

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal restoration depends upon DPA unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
3. The only requirement for DPA membership is to sign an Authorization Card.
4. Each block representative should be autonomous except in matters affecting other block representative or DPA as a whole.
5. Each block representative has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the member.
6. The DPA ought never endorse, finance, or lend the DPA name to any union related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
7. Every DPA base ought to be fully self-supporting, encouraging outside contributions beyond dues.
8. DPA should remain forever professional while looking out for ourselves.
9. DPA, as such, ought never be organized as part of a national affiliate; but we may create committees directly responsible to those they serve.
10. DPA has no opinion on outside issues; hence the DPA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity.
12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.   

Happy New Year from Transform DPA.
Don't Drink and Drive!

Friday, November 25, 2011

DPA Issues Contract Opening Statement

DPA Issues Contract Opening Statement

From Mike Protack, Chairman, DPA Negotiations Committee:

Negotiations offer a challenge. What should the opening offer be? High or low? Close to a resistance point or more cooperative with the other party? The key is to know and understand what the other side(s) will do. In our case, we have two opponents, ALPA and the Company. We have to assume they will work in concert with each other to achieve a non-confrontational stand and claim to “work” for a good contract. History shows we will lose if ALPA is our negotiator.
C2K was an ALPA negotiated product.
DPA WILL be making a contract opener that is radically different from that of ALPA. Due to the independent nature of DPA, we are able to aggressively tackle scope without concern for lawsuits from other regional carriers that WILL be affected by our opener. DPA is NOT REQUIRED to meet and confer regarding our scope proposal with the regional carriers that serve Delta while ALPA is required to do so. The DPA President WILL sign our member ratified contract without hesitation, whereas the ALPA National President may choose to withhold his signature if he sees another lawsuit from the regional carriers is inevitable. He must protect the National Association from Duty of Fair Representation lawsuits and the economic damage that goes with that.
I guess they are planning on submitting their own opener?
DPA WILL have more “pie” to negotiate with. ALPA has often responded to contract requests from the line pilot with the following statement, “The pie is only so big, what are you willing to give up to achieve that?” DPA WILL NOT reduce the “pie” by requiring the Company to pay the earnings of all the Designated Reps as does ALPA. DPA will require our Reps to earn their keep by flying a half line minimum and will then pay the difference remaining OUT OF MEMBER DUES. Delta Pilots will be ensured that their Reps are working solely for the pilots and will enjoy the newly available extra “pie” as the Delta Pilots see fit.
If there is no "pie" how did the DPA get more of it?
We recognize that having DPA make the first offer in a contract negotiation is the preferred scenario. In having the opportunity to make the initial opener, we allow more flexibility during the process and we will also cause the Company to reevaluate their own resistance point on many issues. All DPA members should work to achieve a vote prior to the opener to give us our preferred path to an exceptional new Delta Pilot Working Agreement.

Aggressive does not mean take it or leave it, it means strategic in outlook and firm in our approach. DPA will seek to ensure that Delta continues to grow into a financially solid and profitable company. We will ensure Delta Pilots are properly rewarded for the real value we bring to the company. Recognizing that historically, ALPA does not sign contracts by the amendable dates, it is entirely possible that DPA can open our contact negotiations on time and achieve a new contract PRIOR TO the amendable date.

Isn't that what ALPA is accused of doing?

The items below are not the Contract Opener, they are the Contract Opening Statement. The opener will be determined by input from the entire Delta Pilot group, not just the 4,000 members as of this writing.

Contract Priorities

1. A contract which is understandable, enforceable and beneficial to both parties and should not exceed 200 pages. The average line pilot should be able to fully grasp all provisions of the contract and easily know their responsibilities while also easily determining if the Company is in violation of any area.

What happens if a clear, concise and unambiguous contract needs to be longer than 200 pages?

2. A defined path back to the Delta Contract 2000 upon signing plus current inflation to reflect the multi-billion dollar support the pilot group gave to the company for its survival.

3. Increased Pilot Change Schedule Options to maximize productivity, reduce reserve requirements, increase pilot schedule choices and the pilot quality of life. Pilots should enjoy a contract that rewards professionals who are dedicated to providing our passengers a safe and pleasant flying experience.

It's called the SOT

4. Increased scope protection to reduce regional destruction of our product and careers with system integration of pilots flying Delta routes. Aircraft displaying the Delta livery should only be flown by Delta Pilots.

OMG! Do these guys really not see that Section 1 is about way more than 76 seat planes!?

5. Focus on using premium pay above the Cap to increase productivity and pilot compensation while acknowledging the goal is to put a well qualified pilot in his/her seat, fly them to maximum utilization and return them quickly to rest status.

What if that's not the focus of the pilots?

6. Refine and increase vacation and training pay so as to realize these days carry the same status as days on the line and are not after-thoughts of a Pilot’s schedule.

7. Improve medical coverage for all Pilots, including retirees, which is the fastest growing part of a pilot’s financial obligations. Remove the hesitancy to retire due to extremely high medical premiums.
Is that really why pilots don't retire or is it why older DPA pilots haven't retired?

8. Improve furlough protection and sick pay/usage from the company. Guarantee that pilots will not be harassed for sick leave use.
Why do we need furlough protection if the DPA is recovering all the flying?

9. Establish flow up/seniority for all regional affiliates to establish a solid brand for Delta Airlines at all levels and stop the cannibalization of our flying by pitting one regional carrier against another.
We thought the regional carriers were the problem? Now you want them all to flow up into our jobs and have a national seniority list? Isn't that what the DPA dislikes about the National union?
Pilots are screened, selected and trained to occupy a position of great responsibility and authority. The flying public appreciates and recognizes our role, we expect our Company to do the same.
As long as the ticket price is right...

Mike "Junior" Protack

Monday, November 7, 2011

President's Message - The Lee Seham Issue

Fellow Pilots:

Rumors and tall tales abound on the topic of Lee Seham's relationship with USAPA. Much has been written but, as usual, please take note of the authors of these grandiose yarns and you may find some insight into the motives behind these stories. But here's what has actually happened. To start with, it is worth noting that the current Officers inherited the relationship with Mr. Seham - Seham was chosen precertification.

During the summer of 2010, we recognized that Lee Seham represented a single point of failure for our union. His firm is composed of himself as the sole attorney capable of litigating and a group of journeymen in support. If something, anything, happened to Seham then USAPA would be in trouble because there is no heir apparent inside his firm. And so we sought out to find another competent RLA firm, not to replace Seham, but one with which we could create and test a business relationship in order to eliminate the single point of failure. Competent, powerful labor firms are difficult to come by but after searching for months, we had narrowed that field to Brian O'Dwyer's firm when the Pension Investigation Committee (PIC) needed counsel to potentially investigate State Street Bank (SSB). The PIC attorney was conflicted with SSB, and O'Dwyer was the perfect fit with his extensive pension litigation experience and deep bench.

And so in the spring of 2011, the Board approved the creation of a business relationship with O'Dwyer and we started assigning work to this firm to test their work product. At that time, I personally called Seham and told him the reasons that O'Dwyer had been hired. I assured him that he was not being replaced. There is, after all and unfortunately, plenty of legal work at USAPA to go around.

Now I frankly would have been more than happy to leave well enough alone at this point and to not have to go into the following detail; there just isn't any value for us in telling every detail of the occasional unpleasant business relationship. But the truth of this issue has now been clouded by those who are experts in smearing anyone in their way - they are the dying emblems of old ALPA. So here we are; time for a little truth tellin'.

For a very long time we had been warned about problems with Seham by many others including the Teamsters (their opinions of Seham are not printable), SWAPA (the Southwest pilots' union, who terminated their relationship with Seham just this year for "incompetence and billing irregularities"), APA (the Allied Pilots Association, who fired Seham for a variety of issues including pro-management business relationships), to numerous respected individual labor and RLA attorneys who are aware of Seham's poor reputation among labor advocates. These concerns were relayed to us over time and we took each of them into consideration along the way by doing our best to investigate them and assigning some level of veracity to each of the claims. Each of these concerns with Seham were addressed openly and proactively with him in an attempt to correct problem areas and to stay on track. The efforts to resolve them internally were not successful.

One of the repeated concerns from others is that Seham has a record of becoming vindictive when his business relationships end. Through the latespring, despite my assurances to him to the contrary, Seham became convinced that he was being replaced. This was not ever the plan. The plan was only to eliminate the single point of failure for our organization. At this point, Mr. Seham started engaging in the political process inappropriately. There is never a time when counsel should be politically engaged within the union, but this in fact happened on two occasions where Seham participated in secret telephone calls with certain Board members, plotting for the overthrow of Officers who he believed stood in the path of his USAPA revenue stream. (These calls are acknowledged by those who participated.) This behavior is not only outrageous; it breaches his fiduciary obligation to USAPA as counsel.

The politics continued when Seham began informing line pilots that he wasn't consulted about USAPA's status quo filing in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and that the filing would fail  and be harmful to our other litigations. This was most remarkable because Mr. Seham was in full favor and support of the EDNY filing - right up until the time that he wasn't the one filing the case. The EDNY case was filed because we believe the Company has been violating the law by frustrating the grievance, arbitration and negotiating process to their economic advantage. When the Company violates the law, I believe that the pilots want us to fight back with the tools available regardless of how much of an uphill battle it is to show up in court in America as a labor union. And that is what we did - we made a tough decision to defend the pilots' rights with the EDNY filing.

Finally, concerns over Mr. Seham's billing practices were coming to light. Although, by his own admission, we had substantially reduced our use of his firm during the late spring and summer, Seham's bills were actually increasing. At this point we became aware of the overbilling problems the Southwest pilots had encountered with Seham. Scrutiny of the bills produced more questions than answers and we sought professional advice to protect the organization. Many firms specializing in auditing legal bills were contacted and interviewed. Preliminary reviews by auditors told us that the Seham bills were "un-auditable", "some of the most uninformative invoices ever seen", and "a significant deviation from the standard bills law firms submit". This preliminary indication that there may have been irregularities in Seham's billing practices with USAPA is a situation that the Board has a responsibility to look into. And so, faced with these allegations, I recommended that the Board authorize an audit of all of our legal bills, which is under way. Unfortunately, after eight weeks of asking the Seham firm for the information necessary to audit the bills, not a single shred of the requested information has been forthcoming. Zero.

Interestingly, instead of cooperating with USAPA and simply providing the requested documentation, Seham has retained counsel which specializes in defending attorneys against ethics charges and disbarment proceedings. I for one find it interesting that he feels the need for this when he has simply been asked to provide substantiation for his billing to us. USAPA has an absolute right to the information we are requesting. The audit will proceed, with or without Mr. Seham's cooperation. Each of our other law firms has indicated they will cooperate fully.

We have found that Mr. Seham has presided over his own demise at many labor unions, and he certainly isn't helping himself here at USAPA. I would be happier if this all were not so, but our obligations to maintain competent, ethical and effective counsel will not be hindered.

I am happy to report that attorneys Brian O'Dwyer and Pat Szymanski are offering us many opportunities that were not previously available. Most recently, the Board approved the reassignment  of the Phoenix Declaratory Judgment case to Szymanski and O'Dwyer. Aside from the fact that we cannot be represented by a firm that presents basic trust issues, O'Dwyer is a seasoned labor attorney with political clout that was simply unavailable before. Szymanski is a very experienced RLA attorney who served as general counsel to the Teamsters and Mr. Hoffa for seven years. Their approach is decidedly different from the high confrontation that marked Seham's interaction with everyone, from the judges to his attorney counterparts on the other side. Being advocates for your position doesn't require foment and hostility with those on the other side. A fresh approach to our legal strategy will produce healthier results.

I know that there are additional questions that have been raised. If you want more information, one accurate place to get more information is the recent CLT update that you can read by clicking here. In addition, we have assembled a short series of Q&As on this topic that you can read by clicking here.

None of these decisions were made lightly. All were made after due deliberation and after a full review of the facts. This organization will be managed methodically and dispassionately with only your best interests in mind. I am extremely confident that we are in a position to move forward with more competent legal counsel than we had before. We are well aware that all of this may not be very interesting to many pilots and we will be communicating to you on the critical topics of the status of our contract and seniority dispute in the next few days.


Captain Michael Cleary

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Captain Graham's response to DPA

Somehow the DPA reads this letter as a win against tyranny. It's a view we don't take after reading the same letter. The DPA has been singled out for violating Flight Operations advocacy policy by having pilots stuff vertical files with DPA propaganda in DTW, ATL and LAX. Caplinger attempts to distance his control over DPA members in an attempt to mitigate his liability, yet his own lawyer says on video that the members should "just go ahead and try it anyway" even though it violates policy.

Our concern over the legal team the DPA uses continues to worry us when Seeham advocates violating a policy at work, a move that can get pilots in trouble but leaves Capligner insulated. That's nice for him.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Does the DPA really want a union?

We took a look of heat over our insinuation that the DPA does not want a union, they want no union at all. Does this sound like the first art of a union's constitution?

Section 7. Dissolution
1. The association may be dissolved at any time by a two-thirds (2/3) Majority Vote of the active members in good standing.
2. The Board of Directors shall promptly conduct a vote as provided above by petition to the Secretary Treasurer by thirty-three percent (33%) of the active members in good standing, or on the written request of two-thirds (2/3) of All the members of the Board of Directors.
3. In the event of such dissolution, the Executive Council shall act as agent for the members and dispose of all physical assets of the Association by public auction, private sales, or other-wise, and any and all questions relating thereto shall be decided by a majority vote of the Board of Directors.
4. If the Association has any outstanding legal issues or any unresolved claims at the time of dissolution, the assets from the disposition of all physical assets as well as collected dues will be placed in a trust until all issues are resolved.
5. Once the Board or the appointed Trustee determines that all known or potential claims against the Association have been satisfied, all the liquid assets shall then be prorated to the active members in good standing at the time of such dissolution, in proportion to the dues that were paid by each member less any indebtedness.

Do you really think one of the first things the DPA needed to do was write a way out?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Hurricane was coming!

This writes itself. Is USAPA imploding again? We watched Seham talk at the ATL DPA meeting and he spent a lot of time saying how ALPA's merger policy was a "fiasco."

In fact, we had never heard this SLI talk until a recent "anonymous" forum post. Half of Seham's video time talking was spent specifically talking about two different SLI cases.

For a group trying to not talk about the SLI, their lawyer sure spent a lot of time doing it? What message does that send?

Your representatives attended a special BPR meeting in CLT August 25th and 26th, 2011. A hurricane was bearing down on CLT when we arrived. Actually, there were two: Hurricane Irene, and what looked to be a severe political storm. As you know, things are not all sweetness and light within the union leadership. But hey, it's politics and that is to be expected.

On May 27th Mike Cleary, as president of USAPA, filed a "Status Quo" lawsuit in the Eastern District of NY without prior board approval and only informed the board members no more than a few hours prior to filing. This important decision was never fully discussed or debated by the board. On July 29th 2011, the company accused USAPA of an illegal job action and filed for a "preliminary injunction" against the union in the Federal District Court of Western North Carolina. As of August 16th, the BPR had received precious little information about these lawsuits from the USAPA officers. By officers, we mean Mike and Randy, because it now appears that Rob and Gary are not really considered "officers" by the other two.

Since the president was not as forthcoming with information to the board as some of us would like, the board decided to take control and call for a meeting to discuss these things and their associated expenses. This is our right under the USAPA Constitution. Needless to say, there was some irrational resistance to the idea of a meeting (for the express purpose of informing the board of all things legal, and how we were going to pay for these expensive developments) by those who, for whatever reason, did not favor a meeting at this time. The most often asked question by these resistors was "did you call the president?" Yet, these same few became incurious when information was not flowing to the board from the president. They never asked the question of the president, "did you call the board?" Perhaps they think the board works for the president instead of the president that works for the board. But, those of us who called for the meeting had the rules on our side and eventually a date for the meeting was set- it was even the date originally suggested by the DCA reps who made the request for this meeting of the BPR. There were some unkind (ludicrous, even) accusations made against those calling for this meeting which expressed that somehow there was some alternative and nefarious agenda afoot. Some of you may have seen an anonymous letter on the internet accusing DCA and PHX of conspiring to destroy USAPA by removing the President and Vice-President because the Vice-President was having a relationship with a former Seham attorney. The anonymous web-board rant went on to indicate that Lee Seham was only in it for the money and that he was somehow upset because he was not getting to bill for the NY and NC litigation.

While we would prefer not to see romantic relationships between our union Officers and our hired help, unless it directly affects the ability of the union to operate or misappropriates union resources, who cares? PHX sure doesn't, but nevertheless, the defenders were out and loaded for battle anyway in anticipation of the "hidden agenda" that did not exist.

Since Lee Seham has always been considered "General Counsel" for USAPA and his firm works for the board, we (the BPR) asked for a briefing concerning all of the ongoing litigation. However, the "officers" had other plans. It was quite obvious from the beginning of the meeting that the relationship between Lee Seham and the "officers" (meaning Mike and Randy) had broken down to the point where they are no longer working together- or at least not working together well. There were many accusations from both sides and the animosity was thick. It was obvious that Mr. Seham was constrained as to what he wanted to say in open session for a couple reasons. The first having to do with the "love affair," and the other having to do with legal strategy of the company DJ and the two lawsuits that the new law firm of O'Dwyer and Bernstein is working on. From the start, Seham stated that he was no longer acting as USAPA's general counsel as he has been excluded from most legal decisions as of late and had not even learned about the NY case until the same time as the majority of our pilots- when he read about it in the "President's Update." Mr. Seham expressed that, essentially, he no longer works for USAPA. To be accurate, however, some of his firm's lawyers continue to do good work for the association on behalf of several committees. The relationship has not completely ended, but there has been a distinct change of operations. The board has not yet voted to officially remove Lee (and/or the rest of his firm), but it is clear that the "officers" are no longer calling Lee for anything.

The exchange between the board, Lee Seham, and the “officers” was extensive and sometimes nasty. The "officers" have even accused Mr. Seham of over-billing the union and are planning to investigate this with an outside firm. Unfortunately, this was the first time the board had heard anything about this alleged over-billing practice since we had not been informed prior to this meeting even though Mike and Randy claim to have suspected for some time. (Did you call the board, Mr. President?)

Your reps observe that it is no secret that most West pilots have held negative opinions of Lee Seham, his work, and his legal theories. After three-and-a-half years, his biggest supporters now share part of the West perspective of Mr. Seham, the man that started his association with USAPA by advising the founders that the Nicolau Award was just a "proposal" and filing RICO charges against West pilots. It is ironic then that Lee is now feeling the wrath from the other side of the aisle. It was interesting to watch as the leadership distanced themselves from this man whom they had praised for so long and followed unflinchingly into court (and more than once). Throughout the entire day, attorneys from the new law firm of O'Dwyer & Bernstein were in the room observing how the "officers" had turned on their formerly trusted counsel. We suspect this did not go unnoticed by these new lawyers.

All of this took up most of the first day, yet we still had plenty of work to do and many agenda items to cover. With the other hurricane bearing down on the East Coast, many of the leaders rightfully wanted to get out of town so they could be home when Irene hit. After day two, your reps cruised home to our good (albeit hot!) weather west of the Mississippi.

The second day of this yet-to-be-completed meeting was far more cordial and productive as we discussed and debated USAPA's continuing financial support of CAPA (Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations), were briefed by the NAC, and received additional briefing by the Grievance Committee. The CAPA wants to raise dues for everyone in the organization by 20%. While that sounds like lots of money, it amounts to around $3900 per quarter and does not represent a significant sum of our total dues dollars. Jeff Skiles gave the BPR a thorough briefing and shared his thoughts about the direction of CAPA (which has not been entirely to our liking as of late, but still holds plenty of possibilities). In the end, however, both Jeff and the President recommended that we remain in CAPA and the board voted unanimously to remain part of that organization in spite of the dues increase. We think this is a worthwhile move.

The Grievance Committee briefing was held in "closed session" so there is not much we can report from that.

The NAC made a presentation wherein the bottom line was the company's continuing refusal to move in a positive direction on any proposal, as they keep returning to their positions as found in "the Kirby." As every PHX pilot, (and every US Airways pilot for that matter) knows, the Kirby is wholly unacceptable. That proposal was unacceptable four years ago, and it is even more unacceptable today. Even if seniority was settled this instant and the Nicolau seniority list was included, let us say again: THE KIRBY IS UNACCEPTABLE! We are not making much progress, and unless some dramatic event happens soon, we are not going to see a contract for a VERY long time. We have two other bits of extreme news- one good, and one bad. The good news is that the mediator added two more negotiation dates before the end of the year, with one in November and one in December. The bad news is the NAC showed us a picture of President Obama, David Axelrod (his senior advisor), and Axelrod's lifelong friend, Gerald Glass (negotiator for the company) standing shoulder to shoulder at a ballgame. Yes, politics and connections will always trump a working-mans union during negotiations, and whatever small amount of leverage we have. So if anyone is thinking that our democratic president is going to allow for the release of little ole' US Airways (which flies so many senators and congressmen conveniently and safely out of DCA) anytime soon, please think again! The NMB reports to President Obama. Glass was the best man at Axelrod's wedding. It's not hard to imagine how a single phone call could delay the NMB for a very long time in spite of efforts on our part.

This meeting, while very informative, was long overdue and it now stands in recess until "the call of the chair." We will return to CLT September 7th to finish up the agenda and make some decisions concerning General Counsel and our finances (both in the future and the past) which need to be "cleaned up" since they have not been brought to the board yet. We also must decide how to handle the unfortunate "Distance Learning Terminations" and as well as what to do about protecting the Safety Chairman from termination.

As a final thought, we would like to thank Gary Hummel, USAPA's Executive Vice President. Gary has done a ton of work to get our new "Worldwide Headquarters" up and running. This was the first time many of us had seen the new digs, and they are very nice. The technology is pretty cool and the location is convenient to our preferred hotel as well as many decent dining options within a short walk. If any of you are in CLT and have enough time, make the effort to visit the new office or stop by during a meeting. You will have to be let into the office since it is fortified with cameras, cipher locks and possibly laser beams (though we aren't 100% sure about the laser beams), but it is worth seeing and it looks like a nice, quiet, efficient place to work. Well done, Gary.

We will update you further next week after the conclusion of the meeting.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Will the DPA sue?

Today the DPA put out several indications that they might take Delta or ALPA to court. They further make thinly disguised threats that they will not be responsible for "the actions of Delta Pilots who are determined to resist discriminatory policies" whatever that may entail.

We also like this line "We will, nevertheless, continue to focus on minimizing the impact on Flight Operations daily business."

DPA is challenging the unfair labor practices of Delta Airlines in allowing ALPA to use Company resources to actively campaign against DPA. Highlighting the cozy relationship between ALPA and Delta, these unfair practices are grounds for action in Federal Court. DPA members need to understand that their right to organize is being interfered with and respond accordingly. Our campaign goals are in sight and we will continue growing despite this heavy bias toward ALPA.

Read more at DPA Challenges ALPA's Misuse of V-Files

Thursday, August 25, 2011

DCA, PHX and Seham Ally To Topple USAPA Leadership

No comment needed:

Fellow Pilots,

The above headline may appear too fantastic to believe but it is in fact what is happening as you read this. It is very easy to understand why PHX, and the Company too for that matter, would like to see Cleary and Mowery unseated but because of this very fact it is beyond reason how any east representative can fail to recognize how such an act would play to our opponents’ greatest wishes. Seham’s motivation is age old and quite simple - money.

To understand how this came together some history is in order. Seham, from the onset, has been USAPA’s go-to legal counsel. For a variety of reasons USAPA, under the guidance of President Cleary and Vice President Mowery, has enlisted the help of {Firm} Odwyre. This firm has taken center stage in the status quo litigation that has just concluded. Seeing this has caused Seham to undoubtedly question his shelf life here and whether his firm’s coffers are going to suffer as a result.

That’s where the high drama enters the picture. USAPA Vice President Randy Mowery has been involved in a long term committed relationship with a former Seham employee. When this relationship began taking root, some eighteen months ago, Mowery, Cleary and this former employee took the matter to Seham and Scott Petersen (Seham partner) for their consideration, in the interest of transparency and due diligence to the union. Both Seham and Petersen unequivocally stated that there was no conflict of interest where this relationship was concerned and no issue on the matter was raised until recently - coincident with Odwyer’s rise to increasing influence.

Suddenly, Seham has changed his answer and now claims that a great impropriety has taken place which can not go unaddressed. First it is important to understand that this is the exact opposite of what he and Petersen told the parties and what they have endorsed for the last eighteen months. Second, it should be recognized that Seham’s claims are completely baseless, both under the law and as a matter of simple common sense. Finally, it is vital to understand that if Seham’s stated concerns were legitimate then he never would have expressly condoned the matter when it was initially brought to his attention let alone for the last eighteen months.

The math here is simple. Seham sees his business slipping away and has aligned himself with Cleary’s and Mowery’s political opposition in the slimiest form of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” politics. All of this is going to be revealed at the August 25 BPR meeting at USAPA headquarters in CLT. DCA and PHX are going to give Seham the venue he seeks to assure that his cash flow is not eroded by Odwyre and they in return will have the opportunity to aid the advancement of their chosen candidates into USAPA’s leadership - both efforts facilitated by trying to cripple Cleary and Mowrey.

All you have to know if you are trying to get to the bottom of which side to be on is that the Company and AOL are foaming at the mouth at the prospect of seeing the unseating of the leadership that is responsible for the unrelenting effort that is frustrating their attempts to profit at your expense.

Pick up your phones and call your reps. Get to CLT tomorrow August 25 and catch the Best Western Sterling van to USAPA HQ for the meeting. These malcontents need to hear loud and clear from you to knock it the hell off NOW! It may be the most important thing you ever do for your career.

Friday, August 19, 2011


The DPA lawyer uses the "Expert Report of Lee Seeham" as "evidence" against ALPA. The interesting fact is that the court refused to let Seeham testify. Why didn't the court let Seeham testify against ALPA?

They further assert:

potential financial damages that could exceed the $1.2 Billion requested by the harmed TWA pilots.

We get a look at the other side from a briefing given to the MEC in it's regular meeting this week:

Mr. Cohen briefed the MEC on recent legal developments in a lawsuit against the Association, commonly referred to as Brady v. ALPA.

The lawsuit arose out of American‘s purchase of TWA assets when TWA was in bankruptcy and facing the real possibility of going out of business. The TWA MEC was very supportive of the transaction because it meant jobs at a strong carrier for TWA pilots. The TWA MEC voted to waive the pilots‘ contractual right to a seniority arbitration because it was demanded by American management as a condition for going forward with the transaction. Later, after the seniority lists were integrated, a group of former TWA pilots who had gone to American, including former MEC members, alleged that the waiver decision was forced on them by ALPA. ALPA has argued that there is no evidence to support this "conspiracy theory" and that all of ALPA‘s actions were geared toward supporting the MEC‘s own decisions to make sure the transaction went forward so that the TWA pilots would get jobs at American.

The lawsuit was filed in 2002 and went to trial in June of this year. It took so long to get to this point for several reasons. First, the lawsuit was dismissed by the district court on statute of limitations grounds and then returned to the district court when the Court of Appeals reversed the dismissal. Second, the plaintiffs hired and fired several sets of lawyers. Third, there was delay caused by dissension among the plaintiffs which resulted in an individual being removed as a named plaintiff.

The trial lasted about six weeks and a verdict was issued on July 13. The jury found that: (1) ALPA had violated its duty of fair representation; (2) As a result of this violation, "some" TWA pilots were harmed in an unspecified way.

There has been some very misleading publicity, especially from some legal professionals who make their living attempting to represent independent pilot groups. Contrary to assertions, the verdict is one step along the way of a long legal process that has a long way to go. ALPA‘s lawyers have filed a number of motions. They believe that the verdict is not supported by the evidence and is contrary to the applicable law. Additionally, there has been no process for determination of damages. Any such process would not even start until after ALPA‘s motions are ruled upon. At that time, the judge would order a period of discovery (document production and depositions) to be followed by another trial with respect to plaintiffs‘ damage claims. At that time, the issues to be determined would include whether and to what extent damages may be ordered and for whom—or at all. Any dollar amounts or descriptions of the amount of damages are pure unsupported, speculation.

Assuming the damage trial were to draw to a conclusion, ALPA would have the right to appeal to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Even if damages were assessed, ALPA has substantial insurance coverage, precisely for this type of situation.

Finally, ALPA has never assessed its membership to pay for litigation, awards, verdicts or settlements. There is no reason to assume that it would do so in this case.

We will make the popcorn!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ousting an Independent

Remember the 1992 firing of the Seham firm as APA’s general counsel? There’s more to this drama, however. Just six months after being dismissed, the Sehams launched a bid to create another independent union for pilots at American Airlines — the American Independent Cockpit Alliance, Inc. (AICA) — with the aid of the McCormick Advisory Group, an administrative support firm that funds start-up “independents.”

According to its website,
“AICA was incorporated in June 1993 . . . and provides all services normally associated with a labor union except collective bargaining. AICA exists to become the certified bargaining representative for the pilots of American Airlines.”

Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen — the same general counsel that DPA has hired to represent Delta pilots — set up another independent union to decertify its own former client, the Allied Pilots Association (APA), the supposed model for DPA.

In fact, the AICA website refers to Martin Seham’s experience as APA counsel to show his ability to help establish “independent” unions. It does not mention Seham’s dismissal by APA.

The AICA website also talks favorably about the law firm’s representation of management. Of the firm’s lawyers, the site states:
“They have had the experience of sitting on both sides of the table and share one of the greatest aids to negotiated settlements; that is, the ability to put oneself in the other guy’s shoes.”
That is a fancy way of saying that the firm, while it primarily represents management, attempts to walk on our side of the street but has no allegiance or loyalty to labor or to unions.

The fundamental question is this: Does Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen help establish independent unions to represent labor?

We don’t think so. Simply put, DPA’s law firm acts in a way that seeks to divide and conquer labor and, at the same time, helps management undermine contract standards and set legal precedent that is favorable only to management.

Transform DPA will further examine Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen’s litigation and bargaining work in the weeks to come and provide some examples of how the efforts of DPA’s law firm have harmed pilots and the entire labor movement.

For example, in future issues, you’ll see that the firm has also worked to undermine other AFL-CIO unions like the IAM through their representation of AMFA — similar to its work to undermine the APA after being dismissed as its general counsel in 1992.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Independant unions take wing

Read this Chicago Tribune article on how firms like the McCormick Advisory Group and Seham, Seham, Meltz & Peterson have a pattern of "helping" angry union members remove themselves from their AFL-CIO affiliates and then wither on the vine.

Independant unions take wing

Divide et impera!

Friday, February 25, 2011

For Seham, Another One Bites the Dust

A union represented by Seham was ousted by its members for a strong, international Teamsters union.

On March 31, 2008, the mechanics of United Airlines voted overwhelmingly to oust AMFA-an independent union represented by DPA's law firm and "professional negotiator" and responsible for some of the most enormous job losses in the industry-for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a strong, international union that represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

The 9,300 active and furloughed mechanics who comprise the bargaining unit will become Teamsters as soon as the NMB vote-of 4,113 for the Teamsters to only 2,631 for Seham-represented AMFA-is certified, expected by close of business today. This group of mechanics was the majority of AMFA's membership.

"We're thrilled that United mechanics voted to join our union by such a large margin,"
said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. "United mechanics will now have the Teamsters strength behind them in their fight against outsourcing to foreign repair stations.
"United has cut more maintenance positions than any other U.S. airline,"
Hoffa said, noting that United outsourced 45 percent of its aircraft maintenance expenses in 2006, three times the amount it outsourced in 1998.

For employees, job loss has always been connected to representation by DPA's advisers, Seham, Seham, Meltz, and Peterson. Not only did this happen at El AI and VARIG, where the law firm represented management, it also happened at Northwest, Atlantic Coast Airlines, United, and other carriers, where it represented labor. The United mechanics have now joined a long list of airline work groups-including the pilots of CAL and FedEx, as well as the flight attendants of Northwest-who have rejected DPA/Seham-style company unionism and understand that being isolated from the rest of labor is a recipe for failure.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Lee Seham's Managment/Union CV

This list is from Lee Seham's CV

See if you can spot how many of his 'independent' unions that still exist.

Airline Union Representation

Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) (1988-present)
- Alaska Airlines
- Atlantic Coast Airlines
- American Trans Air
- Horizon Air
- Mesaba Airlines
- Northwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- US Airway Shuttle (Trump Shuttle)

Airline Professionals Association - IBT Local 1224 (2001-2007)

Allied Pilots Association (APA) (1988-1992)

Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) (1994-1999)

FedEx Pilots Association (FPA) (1992-2002)

Independent Association of Continental Pilots (IACP) (1993-2001)

National Pilots Association (NPA)

Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA) (2003-2006)

US Airlines Pilots Association (USAPA) (2008)

These are the airline managements he has represented...

Airline Represntation

Varig Brazilian Airlines (1988-present)

The Union contends, and the Company vehemently denies, that on November 16, 1993, Martin Seham, Varig's attorney ("Seham"), and William O'Driscoll, President and General Chairman of IAM District Lodge 142 ("O'Driscoll"), reached an oral agreement on new terms to amend the collective bargaining agreement...This agreement in principle was absolutely clear...Mr. O'Driscoll informed me that he and Mr. Seham had arrived at a basis for a contract that would not require granting the right to the Company to subcontract bargaining unit work, based on the cost saving proposals that we had previously discussed. Mr. Seham confirmed that afternoon that 'we have the basis for an agreement.'" Describing this alleged agreement as "The O'Driscoll Hoax," Seham contends that he and O'Driscoll only discussed certain proposals, never reached an agreement, and concludes that "the Agreement ascribed to by Mr. O'Driscoll to me in Paragraph 22 of the Complaint never happened, was never even articulated and is absurd on its face."

SAS Scandinavian Airlines

El Al Airlines

Martin Seham was legal counsel for El Al Israel Airlines when it was hit by a strike by the International Association of Machinists in the mid-1980s. El Al hired strikebreakers.

Aer Lingus

The Irish carrier is providing Airbus A330 aircraft for the trans-Atlantic route, which United is marketing to its customers. It will be flown by Aer Lingus pilots who agreed to a new, discounted wage scale, as well as flight attendants hired by a third-party contractor and trained at United's operation center in Elk Grove Township.

Union leaders fear the unusual code-share arrangement, the first of its kind involving a U.S. carrier, could open the door to franchising on overseas flights. Airlines would lend their marketing clout and brands to promote flights operated by outsourced, nonunion crews hired by an international partner.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The AMFA/DPA Playbook

The AMFA Playbook

Delle-Femine stated that the members of the AMFA National Executive Council and the representatives of AMFA-MSP "were the only AMFA representatives authorized to implement AMFA policy during the Northwest organizing campaign." According to AMFA, no Northwest employee, other than those named above, served AMFA in a representative capacity during the Northwest organizing campaign or had any authority to originate campaign literature or policy.

During the campaign, the only two authorized sources of AMFA correspondence, campaign literature, and campaign policy were the AMFA national/regional officers and AMFA-MSP. According to Delle-Femine, all campaign literature and policy originating from AMFA-MSP was subject to the unanimous approval of the Committee's officers. AMFA-MSP coordinated the dissemination of its literature system-wide through the cooperation of volunteers at the various bases. Other AMFA organizing committees for the Northwest campaign were set up in Memphis, TN, and Atlanta, GA.

All of the AMFA national officers have organizing responsibilities. Delle-Femine stated that literature on individual carriers originates and is disseminated by the local AMFA committees.

Kevin McCormick is President of the McCormick Advisory Group, a management services company that provides administrative, managerial, and financial services to associations. He was appointed as the National Administrator for AMFA. McCormick had contact with AMFA-MSP. The McCormick Advisory Group collected the mail for AMFA on a daily basis. McCormick had contributed material or posted to the bulletin board at the AMFA-MSP web site.

The main activities of AMFA-MSP consisted of distributing literature. Meetings were held at a local restaurant and were very informal in the beginning. As the campaign advanced, office space was secured in Minneapolis, MN. Literature prepared by the Committee had a line at the bottom which stated "Produced and Distributed by the AMFA-MSP Organizing Committee." The literature also included the Committee's e-mail address and phone number.

Hmmmm. If you replace AFMA with DPA...and why the McCormick guy again?

The IAM asserts that Northwest assisted AMFA by allowing that organization access to company property and equipment and that AMFA supporters were allowed to campaign while on company time.

How about those line check pilots asking you to sign up?

In addition to the sanctioned campaign activity, AMFA representatives did campaign through literature which appeared in employee mailboxes, AMFA stickers and other campaign materials which were displayed on tool boxes and on lunchroom tables on the carrier's property, and in one-on-one discussions with employees.

Sound familiar....?


Monday, January 10, 2011

The B-Scale Plague

American Airlines adopted the benchmark B-scale in November 1983, permanently reducing pay for newly hired pilots by 50 percent. In fact, under the AA system—negotiated while the Seham firm sat on the labor side of the table—pay rates and pensions for new employees would never merge with those of then-current employees.

Martin Seham wrote proudly of this accomplishment in Cleared for Takeoff: Airline Labor Relations Since Deregulation.

As general counsel to the Allied Pilots Association (APA), the independent certified representative of the American Airlines pilots, I was close to the negotiations that resulted, in 1983, in one of the earliest realization[s] of the two-tier system. APA was not faced with an insolvent or failing carrier; it was, however, forced to deal with an economic environment that had changed dramatically because of the effects of deregulation and was, by virtue of its independence, mandated to reach an agreement consistent with the needs and objectives of its constituency. — Martin C. Seham

Although B-scales were not a new concept, their initial format was unique to the airline industry. Following American’s lead, other airlines began to demand similar packages—forcing the entire airline labor movement into a new era of concessions. Good for management; bad for pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, and all of the airline industry’s workers.

While ALPA pilots were forced to deal with this blight brought to the industry by APA and the Sehams, not one ALPA pilot group accepted a non-merging two-tier scale. The clearest example of this was the ALPA strike at United in June 1985, when the pilots refused to agree to a non-merging two-tier pay scale.

Ironically, it was ALPA’s success in preventing implementation of the Seham B-scale at UAL that led to the Rakestraw case, where replacement pilots who crossed the picket line attempted to reverse ALPA’s successful efforts to negotiate seniority protection for hundreds of pro-ALPA new-hires who had refused management’s demand to become strikebreakers. DPA’s law firm now misinterprets and misrepresents this case—in which ALPA protected pilots who adhered to union principle and honored picket lines—as somehow giving it carte blanche to change seniority as it sees fit. To read more, click here.

In fact, following ALPA’s win at United, ALPA pilot groups, through their strength at the bargaining table, led the effort to eliminate the B-scale structure. They did it by working together, forging a pattern and sticking to it—the same way ALPA pilots throughout our industry are working to rebuild our contracts after the era of bankruptcy and ATSB constraints.