1. Who Are Our Attorneys?
On Wednesday October 2, 2013, a 3-hour meeting was held at the offices of the attorneys whose services we have retained. These two firms will be working together to represent our case. Both firms have substantial aviation labor law experience under the Railway Labor Act, and because of their ongoing relationship on big cases, work very synergistically together. That's why there are two firms. The two firms have very successfully represented numerous individual Continental pilots in the past in various litigation aspects against both the Company and ALPA, and were already quite familiar with the ISL Opinion when we called, and told us that they had been expecting a call from the Continental pilots for several weeks. Our primary attorney has been described as a bulldog...one who won't let go once he gets ahold of something. We hope that if you join in the fight with us that you'll do the same. Their names will be made public upon filing, and no doubt hit the media within hours. But for now they have asked us to not disclose names, or they'd be getting large volumes of media calls before we even file, taking up valuable time needed to research the case. Bottom line, we trust them, and they have extensive RLA experience.
2. Why Should We Even Try? This Is Pointless, Isn't It?
Let's use an analogy, so maybe you can relate why it's not! When we're sick, we go to the doctor. We describe our symptoms and let the doctor tell us how to deal with our problem. Where we run into trouble is when, with all of our access to information on the Internet, we start self-diagnosing and telling the doctor how to do their job, and how to treat us. And though there may still be something wrong with us, it may be something different than what we thought. Sometimes it's not as bad, and other times its even worse. The problem is, that it needs to be looked at by an expert, and WE can only accurately describe our symptoms.
On the other hand, though, when there seems to be a life-threatening virus going around, and everyone you meet seems to have the same symptoms, and maybe some symptoms are hitting one demographic hardest, we all must take it very seriously before it ruins our entire community, and it's a pretty good bet that the problem is going to have to be treated the same way. Even if the medicine tastes bad, or the treatment makes us even sicker in the short-term, we have to see it through.
It may take a while for the medicine or treatment to work, or even show signs that it's working. But most of the time, eventually the medicine or treatment does its job, and life improves, so long as the diagnosis and treatment were correct. Eventually, we are completely healed, while at
other times we're left with lingering symptoms that stay with us the rest of our lives, but life is still somewhat better.
However, most of us would agree that if a certain medicine or treatment could potentially save or improve the quality of life for ourselves or a member of our own family, to simply let the sickness go untreated or to refuse treatment, is unquestionably the unthinkable.
3. How Does This Relate To Our Situation?
It's not that we are simply "unhappy" or "unsatisfied" with the results of the ISL, or even "greedy" as our L-UAL have already labeled us. That is not a valid or legal reason for vacating an Award, and neither is the fact that you don't think the Arbitrator did a good job. We are taking legal action because our symptom is that our rights have been grossly violated throughout a process that was promised as "fair & equitable", and we're seeking other Continental pilots who feel the same. The specifics of our claims will be made public in our Court filing.
4. But You Won't Get The ISL Vacated, So Why Even Try?
Lets go back to the virus analogy for a moment. Let's say for a moment that your child or your spouse had such a debilitating illness that it was crippling, and there was no known treatment that has worked in recent history. Would you still throw up your hands and say "why even try" and stop looking for a remedy?
Now, let's assume that the doctor tells you that they knew of a treatment that they felt showed some serious promise of working, but that there were still no guarantees, that the chances of success were still small, and that it could be expensive - but they just had no way to tell for sure. What do you think a reasonable and prudent person would do? Do you think a father or mother would not do everything they could for their child, or a husband or wife would not do anything for their spouse?
While thankfully our situation is not so grim, the repercussions of doing nothing are just as serious! Yes, the standard for vacating an arbitration award is high. Yes, it hasn't happened very often, or recently. Yes, this might become expensive as a group, and Yes, it might get so expensive that we decide its not worth it to continue to pursue. Yes, the more pilots participate, the cheaper it gets for all. Yes, if it works, we will all be better off.
Fortunately, our "doctors" are nearly every bit as good as the lead television character on the series "House", albeit in the legal field dealing with the RLA.
5. Where Can I Donate, & How Much Do You Need From Each Pilot?
You can freely donate to the first phase with Debit or Credit Card at http://www.LegacyCALPilots.com/, and click on the "Contribute" tab at the top of the navigation bar. Once we file, we move into Phase 2, and at that point we will be seeking your ongoing financial support. We hope with enough pilot participation that the monthly support level will be painless. The more pilots that step up and become involved the less of a burden it is on each other.
For now, please consider a $150 to $200 donation using your Debit or Credit Card. You can help us by checking the box to cover the transaction fee of 3%. We are working on the possibility of adding the ACH feature which will allow you to contribute directly from your checking account with no transaction fee.
6. What If I Just Want to Contribute Anonymously? May I?
Yes, there is an option to stay anonymous during the donation process, but your name and contact info is only available to Counsel, the accounting staff, and the leadership of the LCPAF, LLC leadership. No list will be publicly published or released. There is no reason for any other member to have access to the list of donors, and the act contributing does not make one a plaintiff. So it will help us if you please include your complete contact information.
7. Will My Name Automatically Appear As A Plaintiff If I Donate?
No. A separate process for joining as a plaintiff will take place later. Not everyone who donates wants their name to appear in Court filings, but according to Counsel, the names of all of those who do join as plaintiffs will be listed somewhere in the Court documents. The process and time for any or all Legacy Continental pilots to join as plaintiffs will be determined by Counsel. An announcement including the details of such a process will likewise be determined by counsel.
To contribute to the Legacy Continental Pilots Action Fund, click on the CONTRIBUTE button at the top of any page.
8. What Will Happen To Any Remaining Funds in the end?
If an opinion returns that essentially tells us that we do not have sufficient enough grounds to continue at any point, or at the end of the case, then unless a different outcome desired by the group as a whole, it is our intent that any remaining funds will be returned on pro rata based on what each person contributed.
9. What About If We Win Damages?
With the Courts permission, it is our intent that in the event that we should win a monetary award, a secondary reason that we are tracking the names and the amount of money that each individual contributes, is so that each individual who contributed to the legal fees anywhere in the process, and by any amount, may be made whole before any monies are divided from the Award.
The reason for this is twofold:
1) it allows those with the means to donate larger amounts, the ability to do so more freely without the fear that their generosity will be taken advantage of by those who sit on the sidelines and contribute very little; and
2) it is simply the most "fair and equitable" way to approach a monetary win. We want no Legacy CAL Pilot to be any worse off, or better off financially based on the dollar amount they donated, should we win. In other words, this is not Vegas...you won't get more of an Award just because you contributed more. The goal is to make everyone whole before any Award monies are distributed.
10. Are you trying to overturn the ISL, and can it be done? I thought "binding arbitration" meant it's binding?
Under the RLA, courts may review an arbitration panel’s award based upon the following specific grounds: (i) failure to comply with the requirements of the RLA; (ii) failure to conform or confine itself to matters within the scope of its jurisdiction; or (iii) fraud or corruption by a member of the arbitration panel granting the award. 45 U.S.C. § 153.
This law was written in 1926, and did not foresee the problems involved in merging two seniority lists. It has not been modified to correct this deficiency. It doesn't make our task impossible, but it certainly is a very high standard, and it will no doubt be an uphill battle that may even challenge our collective Will at times. There are no guarantees that we can win, even if we can be heard by a Court. The only guarantee is that of a good old fashioned slugfest that the L-UAL pilots love so dear - and is one that our pilot group has needed for a very long time.
Our counter parts as a group, however, are very litigious in nature, and spring-loaded to fight over anything. We should emulate them, and fight for our collective rights. The results of our collective efforts will be played out based on the facts of the case, and not conjecture about what we "think" may have happened. Although we have a number of claims which we have discussed with Counsel, we will do our best to refrain from self-diagnosis, and try to stick to describing our symptoms. If there aren't facts to support an argument, then there simply isn't an argument. But we have a lot of symptoms, and will look to the group to help provide Counsel with even more. We apologize if our "symptoms" (or claims) seem rather vague, but Counsel has asked us to refrain from discussing our claims with specificity until a filing is made.
11. What is the Structure of the Group?
We formed an LLC for the purposes of protecting the rights, property, and interests of the Continental pilots, since our union will not. In our desire to remain as transparent as possible, we have hired a third-party CPA to track expenses, contributions, and the possibility of any redistribution of remaining funds at endgame.
Copyright Legacy Continental Pilots Action Fund, LLC. 2013 All rights reserved.