Thursday, April 22, 2010

Varig Airlines

Seham Seham Meltz & Petersen (SSM&P) has represented VARIG Airlines management in litigation brought by the International Association of Machinists (lAM) to force the company to pay its lAM-represented employees the amounts owed under the collective bargaining agreement.

In June 2005 VARIG Airlines filed for bankruptcy protection in Brazil. The next month it entered into a new collective bargaining agreement with the lAM that provided the employees with severance pay, accrued vacation, and other compensation in the event of a layoff. In December 2006 VARIG permanently furloughed the 16 remaining lAM-represented employees. VARIG, however, refused to pay these workers what was clearly required by the collective bargaining agreement. Some of these employees had worked for the carrier for more than 30 years!

In January 2007 the lAM sued VARIG in the U.S. District Court in New York. In August 2007 the District Court ruled for employees and told VARIG to comply with the CBA and pay $268,000 to its lAM employees. SSM&P and VARIG continue to try to keep employees from getting what they bargained for and what the court ordered. They have now appealed the District Court's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which has yet to issue a decision.

This is but one more example in a long history. This firm has no problem representing and advocating for management and arguing against and harming employees and workers. SSM&P refuses to recognize that labor unions and the employees they represent are not simply litigants in a lawsuit but are workers trying to make a living and survive. Virtually all other labor lawyers understand this and uniformly choose to take cases that either advance the interests of employees or that impede the interests of working men and women. Simply put, SSM&P believes it is ethical to work both sides of the street.

Are these the kinds of people you want working for you? Do you want to support the firm's activities against other working men and women? Do you believe that this firm can really advance your agenda? Most important, do the decisions DPA has already made on professional help reflect the kind of judgment that will benefit you long-term?

You decide.