Addington v. US Airline Pilots Association

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Law
  • Date Filed: 06-26-2015
  • Case #: 14-15757
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Bybee for the Court; Circuit Judge Graber; Concurrence and dissent by Circuit Judge Tashima
  • Full Text Opinion

In a collective bargaining context, the duty of fair representation is analogous to a fiduciary duty and must be exercised without hostility or discrimination against any members.

In 2005, US Airways and America West Airlines merged into a single airline. Conflict arose when the pilots from both former airlines negotiated an integrated seniority list. The former US Airways pilots wanted to base seniority on date of hire while America West, a much smaller and younger airline, wanted to base seniority on the relative strength of the airlines before the merger. Unable to reach a satisfactory agreement, the parties entered binding arbitration. The arbitrator developed a seniority list by taking into account both group’s interests. However, the US Airways pilots were still opposed to the list. In response, the US Airways pilots formed a new union which attempted to enforce a date of hire seniority list. The America West pilots then sued the union for breach of its duty of fair representation. The district court entered judgment for the America West pilots and issued an injunction to renegotiate the seniority list. The US Airways pilots appealed, and the case was dismissed for lack of ripeness. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reviewed whether, in a collective bargaining context, the duty of fair representation is analogous to a fiduciary duty and must be exercised without hostility or discrimination against any members. Subsequently, the panel held just that. The US Airways pilots and their new union violated the duty of fair representation by attempting to enforce a seniority list which was discriminatory against the America West pilots. REVERSED in part, VACATED, and REMANDED in part.

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