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INDEPENDENT UNION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS v. PAN AM

July 10, 1985

INDEPENDENT UNION OF FLIGHT ATTENDANTS, Plaintiff,
v.
PAN AMERICAN WORLD AIRWAYS, INC., Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCLAUGHLIN

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

McLAUGHLIN, District Judge.

 This is an action under the Railway Labor Act ("RLA"), 45 U.S.C. § 151 et seq. Plaintiff union seeks a preliminary injunction ordering Pan American World Airways, Inc. ("Pan Am") to observe certain provisions of an April 1, 1985 agreement, or in the alternative, to maintain the status quo as it existed on or about April 1.

 Findings of Fact

 The Independent Union of Flight Attendants ("IUFA") and Pan Am have been parties to a series of collective bargaining agreements governing the "rates of pay, rules and working conditions" of flight attendants represented by the IUFA. This action arises from the parties' efforts to negotiate a successor collective bargaining agreement to the 1982 Agreement, as extended, which expired by its terms on December 31, 1984. During 1984, the parties served notices of intended changes in the agreement pursuant to Section 6 of the RLA, 45 U.S.C. § 156, and initiated negotiations and, ultimately, mediation under the auspices of the National Mediation Board ("NMB").

 On March 1, 1985, the NMB informed the parties that its mediatory efforts had failed, and released the parties to engage in self-help upon expiration of a thirty-day cooling-off period, i.e., as of April 1, 1985 at 12:01 a.m. 45 U.S.C. § 155, First. (This cooling-off period was subsequently extended by the parties until approximately 3:30 a.m.) During the cooling-off period, the parties continued their discussions under the auspices of the NMB, and at the last moment arrived at what appeared to be an agreement.

 On April 1, 1985, the parties executed a brief "Memorandum of Understanding" which provided that:

 (1) IUFA and Pan Am have agreed to the proposal of Pan Am to IUFA dated March 31, 1985, as amended during the course of negotiations on March 31 and April 1, and by the IUFA proposal of March 31, 1985, as amended.

 IUFA Exhibit A.

 The very next day, a dispute flared as to whether the 1985 Agreement included a promise by the union to drop certain pending lawsuits and grievances. See DeGeer Declaration at 3. Pan Am insists that such a provision was included in its proposals throughout bargaining for the 1985 Agreement, and was never withdrawn from the table. Thus, Pan Am included such a provision as "Item 7" in the formal, integrated version of the Agreement that it sent to the IUFA on April 4, 1985. IUFA Exhibit B.

 The IUFA contends, however, that Item 7 was specifically excluded from the 1985 Agreement. See DeGeer Declaration at 4. Thus, in subsequent meetings with Pan Am, the IUFA refused to endorse Item 7 of the Agreement, contending all the while, however, that the remainder of the Agreement is valid and binding on the parties.

 On April 12, 1985, the union filed an interpretation request with the NMB (45 U.S.C. § 155, Second) thereby invoking the jurisdiction of the NMB to determine whether "Item 7" was or was not part of the 1985 Agreement. The NMB conducted an evidentiary hearing on April 22, 1985, followed by a briefing schedule that was completed on May 31, 1985. The parties currently await the Board's decision.

 The April Memorandum of Understanding provides that the parties have "reached a collective bargaining agreement subject only to ratification," IUFA Exhibit A, and that the IUFA "will establish a schedule for ratification that will result in a completion of the ratification process within 30 days after receipt of an integrated memorandum of understanding," id. To date, the IUFA has not submitted the Agreement to ratification.

 Pan Am takes the position that, having exhausted the RLA procedures and pending IUFa ratification of the 1985 Agreement, the company is free to pursue its right of self-help. Consequently, Pan Am has chosen to implement its final proposal as accepted by the IUFA on April 1, with certain exceptions, notably, that the Company has elected (a) not to institute a new defined contribution pension plan, (b) not to grant a July 1, 1985 ...


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