Former Midwest Airlines Flight Attendants Win Arbitration Case against Republic Airways
Thursday, December, 27, 2012
Approximately 400 former Midwest Airlines flight attendants learned the benefits of contract arbitration in 2011 when they won an arbitration case against their former employer. According to a complaint filed by The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, the attendants’ union, Midwest Airlines flight attendants were laid off following a purchase made by Republic Airways in which the buyer “staffed the same flights with non-Midwest flight attendants, who were often compensated up to 70% less” (ATW Daily News, Oct. 6, 2009).
The contract that was violated outlined that the attendants’ jobs would be protected if Midwest were purchased by another company. However, in an attempt to lower operating costs, the company who bought Midwest Airlines, Republic Airways, staffed the flights with their own flight attendants, who worked for lower wages.
The arbitration ruling stated that a settlement agreement must be negotiated between the Association of Flight Attendants and Republic Airways to compensate the 400+ employees who were on the losing end of the contractual violation.
According to Toni Higgins, the former president of the Midwest Flight Attendants Union, "It was the dedicated women and men of Midwest Airlines who helped to create our exceptional carrier. Yet, after we merged with Republic, it was the Midwest flight attendants and other flight crew who were tossed aside, without jobs, while our flying partners from other airlines worked our flights for significantly less pay. Management's behavior was not only reprehensible, but it was also in violation of our legally binding contract. This decision is a great victory for the Midwest flight attendants.”
This case involving contract arbitration is an excellent example of the many benefits of arbitration when it comes to workplace disputes regarding a contractual violation. The arbitrator’s decision in arbitration hearings relating to contract disputes are just as legally binding as taking a case to court to be heard by a judge and jury, and often have far better results in much less time and with much less expense for all parties involved in the dispute.