United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Fort Worth Division
AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC. Plaintiff,
TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION OF AMERICA, AFL-CIO, ET AL., Defendants.
MCBRYDE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
for consideration the above-captioned action wherein American
Airlines, Inc. is plaintiff and Transport Workers Union of
America, AFL-CIO ("TWU"}, International Association
of Machinists & Aerospace Workers ("IAM"), and
Airline Mechanic and Related Employee Association TWU/IAM
(the "Association") are defendants. In its
complaint, plaintiff prayed for a permanent injunction
against defendants. The court, having considered the
pleadings, evidence, post-trial briefs, and record, finds
that such relief should be granted and a permanent injunction
basically in the form of plaintiff's proposed permanent
injunction should be entered against defendants.
20, 2019, plaintiff initiated this action by filing its
complaint. Doc. 1. Plaintiff alleged: To gain leverage in
contract negotiations, defendants' members changed their
behavior in a concerted fashion by, for example, taking an
unusual amount of time to repair aircraft and refusing to
work overtime and take maintenance field trips to repair
aircraft. Id. at 2, ¶ 2 & 3, ¶ 4. The
concerted slowdown is causing flight delays and
cancellations. Id. at 3, ¶5. Defendants failed
to take any steps to stop the concerted behavior; in fact,
they have encouraged it. Id. at 4, ¶ 8.
brought a single cause of action against defendants for
violation of Section 2, First of the Railway Labor Act
("RLA"), 45 U.S.C. § 152, First, and requested
a preliminary and permanent injunction enforcing
defendants' duties under that statute. Id. at
29-34. On May 21, 2019, plaintiff filed a motion for
preliminary injunction, and, by order signed the same day,
the court advised the parties that it intended to combine the
hearing on the motion with the trial on intended to combine
the hearing on the motion with the trial on the merits. Docs.
17, 24. Plaintiff then moved on June 14, 2019, for entry of a
temporary restraining order, which the court entered the same
day (the "TRO"). Docs. 58, 65. The court ultimately
held the combined trial on July 1, 2019. On July 10, 2019,
plaintiff requested that the court enter a modified TRO based
on its allegation that defendants failed to comply with the
original TRO, and the court entered a modified TRO the same
day (the "modified TRO"). Docs. 108, 111.
Findings of Fact
on the evidence and the record, the court makes the following
findings of fact:
History and Nature of the Parties' Dispute
1. Plaintiff is a "common carrier by air" as
defined in the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 and a
"carrier" as defined by the RLA. Doc. 75 at 9,
2. Plaintiff, in its current form, is the product of a merger
between plaintiff and U.S. Airways, Inc. ("US
Airways"). Id. at ¶ 2.
3. Plaintiff employs mechanics and related employees who
support them. Id. at 9-10, ¶ 3.
4. Before the merger, TWU represented plaintiff's
mechanics and related employees, and IAM represented
5. those of U.S. Airways. Id. at 10, ¶ 4. After
the merger, TWU and IAM formed the Association to represent
the combined set of employees. Id.
6. The collective bargaining agreements ("CBAs")
between the pre-merger companies and TWU and IAM currently
govern the pay rates, rules, and working conditions for
plaintiff's mechanics and related employees. Id.
at 11, ¶ 7.
7. In 2015, plaintiff and the Association began negotiating
new CBAs to cover the mechanics and related employees
represented by the Association. Id. at ¶ 9. The
parties held their last CBA negotiating session on April
23-25, 2019. Id. at 13, ¶ 20.
8. On February 4, 2019, CBS News aired a news segment (the
"CBS News report") in which a reporter interviewed
airline mechanics who claimed to feel pressured not to report
safety concerns. Ex. 170.
9. TWU Local 591 represents about 3, 600 of plaintiff's
mechanics and related employees. Doc. 75 at 18, ¶ 47. On
February 4, 2019, it released a letter to its membership
stating, "[plaintiff] needs to hear loud and clearly
from this membership that the time to deliver the best
contract is NOW!" (the "February 4 letter").
Id. at 12, ¶ 13; ex. 4.
10. IAM District Lodge 142 is an intermediate-level IAM
affiliate that represents legacy mechanics and related
employees of U.S. Airways. Doc. 75 at 17, ¶ 38. Its
president and general chairman, David Supplee, distributed on
March 8, 2019, a letter on Association letterhead calling for
members to "stop all voluntary actions"
(the "March 8 letter") . Ex. 7; ex.. 62 at 11-12,
11. On March 21, 2019, plaintiff sent to certain TWU and IAM
officials a letter requesting that the Association rescind
the March 8 letter and instruct its members to return to
normal practices and otherwise maintain the status quo. Doc.
75 at 16, ¶ 3 5; ex. 9.
12. The Association responded on March 26, 2019, by sending
plaintiff a letter denying that the March 8 letter was an
Association communication or directive and explaining that it
took down the letter. Doc. 75 at 16, ¶ 36; ex. 11.
Discussion and Further Fact Findings
parties stipulated to a list of factual issues in their June
18, 2019 joint pretrial order under the heading "Agreed
List of the Ultimate Issues of Fact . . . ." Doc. 75 at
19. On June 28, 2019, the court issued a memorandum opinion
setting forth conclusions of law as to certain of the legal
issues stipulated in the same pretrial order. Doc. 100.
Considering those conclusions, it is unnecessary to resolve
issues of fact numbers l.a, 2, and 3. The pertinent portions
of the rest of the issues read as follows:
1. Whether the Defendants' members have changed their
normal working behavior on a concerted basis in a manner that
violates Section 2, First of the RLA resulting in a
disruption to Plaintiff's operations and/or interstate
commerce? . . .
1.b . . . [I]f Defendants have a legal obligation under
Section 2, First of the RLA to take all reasonable measures
to stop concerted activity by their members even if
Defendants have not participated in, authorized or ratified
it, have they done so?
4. If Plaintiff is required to demonstrate that injunctive
relief is the only practical and effective means of enforcing
the Defendants' obligations under Section 2, First of the
RLA, has it done so?
5. Whether the requested injunction would disserve the public
Doc. 75 at 19.
court makes the following findings as to the proper answers
to those factual issues:
Factual Issue No, 1 ("Whether the Defendants'
members have changed their normal working behavior on a
concerted basis in a manner that violates Section 2, First of
the RLA resulting in a disruption to Plaintiff's
operations and/or interstate commerce?"):
members have reduced their normal working behavior in a
concerted manner. Plaintiff's data indicate that they
volunteered for less work in recent months. Specifically, the
percentage of field trips with no volunteers increased
dramatically at certain airports after the dissemination of
the March 8 letter. Ex. 45 at 56-57, ¶ 55. Mechanics at
certain airports accomplished, on average, less routine
overnight maintenance work per day, and deferred more such
work, beginning in January 2 019. Ex. 53 at.
And, the following key measurements increased above
historical norms starting February 4, 2019, the date of the
February 4 letter: (1) the daily number of outstanding
minimum equipment list issues ("MELs")- maintenance
issues temporarily deferred by mechanics that, if left
unfixed, may result in the pulling of an aircraft out of
service-and (2) the daily number of unscheduled aircraft out
of service ("AOS") at 7:00-a.m. Ex. 45 at 26-30,
¶¶ 25-28 & 44-47, ¶¶ 42-44; see
also tr. 32:23-25 & 33:1-6. In addition, the
proportion of MELs being resolved after eight days increased
above historical norms starting in February 2019. Ex. 53 at
14. In short, plaintiff's mechanics, whom defendants
represent, are deferring more work than they used to.
trends are not the result of coincidence or anything else
that could reasonably explain the slowdown in productivity.
To eliminate that possibility, plaintiff's expert, Darin
Lee ("Lee"), conducted a regression
analysis that measured the degree to which the
alleged slowdown can be explained, all else being equal, by
whether those measurements-the daily number of outstanding
MELs and unscheduled AOS at 7:00 a.m.-were observed after the
occurrence of certain of the above-mentioned communications
or events in the parties' dispute. Lee also
controlled for other factors that are known to impact those
measurements, including the number of maintenance-related
issues found by pilots ("pilot write-ups") and the
daily number of scheduled mainline departures. Ex. 45 at
32-33, ¶¶ 31-32 & 48, ¶ 46; ex. 46 at
The regressions, in a nutshell, show a statistically
significant (i.e., not random) increase in the daily number
of outstanding MELs and unscheduled AOS at 7:00 a.m. after
each of those communications and events, even when everything
else that could reasonably explain those trends is held
constant. Ex. 45 at 36-37, ¶ 35 & 49-50, ¶ 48;
ex. 46 at 17. It is reasonable to conclude that
plaintiff's mechanics are the culprit. Mechanics can
decrease plaintiff's productivity by reducing the amount
of work they accomplish. Tr. 29:22-23. They can, for example,
take longer to troubleshoot an aircraft or research the parts
necessary to complete a project. Tr. 30:1-7. It follows that
the only reasonable explanation for the slowdown is concerted
action on the part of plaintiff's mechanics and related
could have refuted those facts by arguing that Lee failed to
consider some other factor that could also explain the
slowdown, but they failed to do. anything of the sort. Their
criticisms instead reflect a misunderstanding of statistics
and Lee's analysis. They argued that the increase in the
daily number of outstanding MELs was due primarily to an
increase in pilot write-ups. Doc. 125 at 3. Lee controlled
for that, however; his analysis shows an increase in the
daily number of outstanding MELs even holding pilot write-ups
constant. Defendants also contended that plaintiff has more
flights in the summertime, which can cause an increase in
mechanical problems, thereby suggesting that season or
departure volume might have caused the increase. See
id. at 2 n.2. Lee controlled for that,
too. Defendants also observed that the time
it takes to complete an assigned task varies based on
aircraft and equipment conditions. Id. Lee
controlled for those factors as well. They, vaguely
hinted that the random differences from job to job
(specifically, the tools available and the time at which the
task was assigned) might have caused the slowdown. See
id. But, the regression results essentially rule out
random chance as a cause of the slowdown. Defendants also
suggested that the CBS News report may have caused the
slowdown. Id. at 12; see also ex. 88 at
21-23, ¶¶ 61-62. Defendants did not allege where
that story was published or aired or how many people saw it.
In any case, the notion that a seven-minute news story caused
the entire slowdown is implausible. It is substantially more
likely that it was caused by heated, years-long contract
negotiations that eventually reached a boiling
does anything else in the record suggest that something else
could have caused the slowdown. As stated, Lee controlled for
everything that could reasonably explain the slowdown. And,
there were no changes in plaintiff's maintenance program
or operations that could explain the decline in productivity.
Tr. 29:8-19, 38:9-12 & 44:15-21. Plaintiff has made no
change in recent months in how much overtime it offers or how
it pays overtime. Id. at 41:5-8. Nor has ...