Pilot fails in claims against APA union over collection of fees and dues on cash bonuses

By John Breslin | Mar 25, 2019

ST. LOUIS - An airline pilot has failed in a claim against his association for collecting a one percent fee on cash bonuses to employees of American Airlines.

John Karkowski, in his class action filed in the District Court of the Eastern District of Missouri, accused the Allied Pilots Association (APA) of breach of duty, breach of contract, and unjust enrichment, among other allegations.

The APA is the certified collective bargaining organization for pilots at American. Under agreements, it collects on a monthly basis one percent fees from members, and agency dues from those not in the association. Under the agreement, APA is authorized to receive dues and fees, with the court noting the vast majority of pilots are members, including the plaintiff.

Karkowski, in this second amended complaint, claims the APA "improperly collected and retained" fees from a profit sharing plan introduced by American.

But District Judge Henry Autrey, in dismissing or granting summary judgment to the defendant on a total of five counts, found that Karkowski's arguments have no merit.

For example, Karkowski accused the APA of acting arbitrarily and in bad faith, but the judge said his arguments did not reach a standard that the association acted “so far outside a wide range of reasonableness that it is wholly irrational," or prove "fraud, deceitful action, or dishonest conduct."

"Nothing in the record establishes any actions by Defendant which can establish it acted in bad faith," Autrey stated.

Autrey granted summary judgment on two counts as he reasoned “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

He dismissed three others, largely on the basis that the plaintiff failed to allege any breach of the collective bargaining agreement.

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