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Seeking To Delay Antitrust Immunity

Open letter to President Obama from United Airlines pilots

eTN Staff Writer  Jun 11, 2009

The pilots of United Airlines are asking President Obama to step in and persuade the Department of Transportation (DOT) to delay approving United Airlines' and Continental Airlines' application for Star Alliance antitrust immunity until protections for American workers are inserted into the filing.

UAL and Continental are seeking antitrust immunity to allow Continental to join the Star Alliance. Alliances have increased international flying, but at the expense of US carriers. The application is currently being reviewed by the Department of Transportation.

In an open letter to the President, which appears in a full page ad in today's edition of Roll Call, Captain Steve Wallach, chairman of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association, is asking President Obama to convey to the DOT that it should fully review the antitrust immunity filing, and consider input from all entities involved - corporate, labor, consumer, and government agencies - to fully understand the ramifications of granting an approval without such protections.

"We are requesting a delay, or an approval with conditions, to the application," said Captain Wallach in his letter to President Obama. "We are not opposed to the Alliance itself. However, we are concerned that this application does not adequately address the very real threats to American workers' jobs. There has never been a more pressing time for you and Congress to step in to prevent even more middle-class American jobs from being outsourced. The tentative approval of antitrust immunity for the STAR Alliance by the Department of Transportation has opened the door for more job losses and pay cuts for American workers.

"As you stated in your acceptance speech, The American Promise, '... businesses should live up to their responsibilities to create American jobs, look out for American workers, and play by the rules of the road,' and that 'our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who's willing to work.'

"Mr. President, the pilots and other employees of United Airlines are willing to work," Captain Wallach continued. "We proved it in 2003 when our industry faced the same challenges the auto industry is current facing. We retooled our contracts and wages, gave up our pensions, and modified our work rules in an effort to make our industry more competitive. Must we now also give up our jobs?"

Open letter to President Obama from United Airlines pilots
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