It took just six weeks after 11 September for the war between labour and management to resume. At United Airlines, unions ousted chief executive Jim Goodwin - the second time in less than three years that they had shuffled the boardroom with their 55% control of the troubled carrier. Emboldened by the show of labour strength, albeit against a hardly robust company, other unions flexed their muscles as well.

At Delta Air Lines, the least unionised of the major carriers, Air Line Pilots Association chairman Will Buergey filed a group grievance challenging the furloughs of 400 pilots and the use of a force majeure clause in justifying the furloughs. ALPA wants a decision by February. On this date ballots in a separate election by mail will be counted to determine if the Association of Flight Attendants has won enough support to enlist 20,000 Delta cabin crew.

Both Delta groups pushed ahead even though the airline said it would furlough 85% fewer workers than it had planned because enough pilots and flight attendants had signed up for voluntary leave or had been called up for military service. At American Airlines, similarly, enough Allied Pilots Association members had taken leave or gone on military service for the carrier to cancel plans to furlough 200 more pilots. Instead, American will idle only 50 more pilots in addition to the 600 already lost.

But at its TWA unit, where 175 pilots were furloughed, a battle looms as American Airlines pilots want control over meshing the TWA and American pilot unions - a move that could set off a new round of internecine anger.

Source: Airline Business