The pension plan arrangements was restructured to merge the two funds including its assets in which Northwest will shoulder the contribution alone offering only fixed benefits. During the transition, the pilots that are still in active service who had contributed to Fund B were allowed to have its accumulated value and assets prior to the 1975 amendment implementation distributed among them or choose to leave together with a new trustee.
The concern of the proceedings is that those pilots who elected to the cash out options in 1975 under the August 7 agreement is supposed to receive the actual value contributed to Trust Fund B up to the enforcement of the August 7 amendment. The distribution of the funds started in November of the same year until December 1975.. Therefore, ALPA demands that the accrued value of the contribution including interests between the date of amendment and disbursement should be awarded to the pilots.
However, Northwest moved to dismiss the claim on grounds of jurisdiction arguing that the subject matter had to be submitted to arbitration due clarification of interpretation of the bargaining agreement as stipulated under the Railway Labor Act, 45 U.S.C. §§ 151 (law.cornell.edu, N.D., b). ALPA’s position in the matters of compulsory arbitration under the Railway Labor Act regarding disputes on the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement is superseded by the ERISA provisions on pension matters, therefore, allowing the federal courts to decide on pension disputes. Setting aside ERISA, its is undisputable that the Railway Labor Act requires that disputes in pension benefits such as between Northwest and ALPA should be primarily presented to an arbitration board. This is because the statutory obligation and function of the arbitration board is solely dedicated to mitigating the matters of collective bargaining contracts (Bunzel, 2006). The board’s jurisdiction in the matter cannot be avoided by bringing the matters in Federal Court.
In respect of complaints presented by claimant (ALPA), it was clear under the ERISA section 514 (d) that nothing in its provisions or in the title for that matter stipulating to construed, modify, invalidate, alter, impair, and to supersede any other laws of the same title including rules and Acts imposed under any law. Therefore, ERISA cannot displace the rules of
In August 1982, Northwest Airlines discharged its First Officer pilot Larry Morrison due to the alleged alcohol related incidents. Subsequently, the grievance filed by ALPA to the panel of Northwest Airlines System Board of adjustments awarded the findings stating that due to the alcoholism problem suffered by Morrison, it is without just cause that Northwest discharge the pilot under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement entered into by ALPA and Northwest. Furthermore, the ruling also suggests that Morrison should have been offered with remedial options, which includes reinstatement without benefits and back pays instead of direct dismissal from service.
Larry Morrison has been with Northwest with the rank of First Officer for sixteen years and without any record of disciplinary action. He was dismissed from the service by Northwest in August 6, 1982 after the management learns that Morrison was piloting one of the aircraft within 24 hours while under the influence of alcohol. Furthermore, Morrison was also found to have been drinking in between his 30-hour flight after falling ill, which resulted to him being absent in his next flight schedule. After no replacement was found to take Morrison’s last flight, he agreed to take the shift under the condition that he will be replaced during the last leg. While in the San Francisco stop, he was tested for alcohol and found his intoxication level at 13%.
Under the California law, a 10% blood alcohol level is already considered to intoxication and Morrison showed to have over the maximum threshold to be considered normal (Rogers, 1995). After an investigation by Northwest Airlines management, Morrison was found to have violated the company rules and regulation pertaining to alcohol consumption 24 hours before a scheduled flight duty. The company policy stipulates the prescribed action in violation of the said prohibition will result to discharge from service. However, Northwest also considers reformed alcoholics to pilot their aircrafts. In lieu to the first decision made by the board reversing the decision of Northwest of Morrison’s discharge, Northwest appeals that its decision to be upheld due to the Airline Operation regulations where Northwest should uphold the safety of the passengers by ensuring the well being of its pilots when in duty (Cole, 2003).
There are two encompassing issues in the case whether the board has the legal capacity to determine the just cause of an employee dismissal and second is whether the board is within the capacity to contradict public policy on aviation security. It is apparent that the issue was stipulated with remedies under the collective bargaining agreement; therefore, the board’s decision will be sustained. Furthermore, Northwest should have mitigated the issue with prior consultation to the board before the imposing decision to discharge Morrison.
(a) law.cornell.edu (n.d.). 29 USC § 1001 - Congressional findings and declaration of policy | Title 29 - Labor | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/29/1001
(b) Law.cornell.edu (n.d.). 45 USC Chapter 8 - RAILWAY LABOR | Title 45 - Railroads | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/45/chapter-8
Bunzel, H. (Henning) (2006). Structural models of wage and employment dynamics. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Cole, L. (2003, July 19). 'Two US pilots drunk each month' - Telegraph. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/727924/Two-US-pilots-drunk-each-month.html
Rogers, P. N. (1995). The general deterrent impact of California's 0.08% blood alcohol concentration limit and administrative Per Se License Suspension Laws Volume 1 of: An evaluation of the effectiveness of California's 0.08% blood alcohol concentration limit and administrative Per Se License Suspension Laws. Division of Program and Policy Administration, California Department of Motor Vehicles, 1. Retrieved from http://apps.dmv.ca.gov/about/profile/rd/r_d_report/Section_5/S5-158.pdf