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.