- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Pilots at US Airways Group Inc. said on Thursday that the company has rejected their request to bring in help from the National Mediation Board to help them reach a joint contract.

The union and the company are working on a joint contract to cover the carrier’s 5,000 pilots, who include pilots from both America West and US Airways. America West bought US Airways in 2005.

The US Airline Pilots Association had wanted a facilitator from the agency that regulates airline labor issues, the National Mediation Board, to oversee talks.

The airline rejected that idea. In a March 31 letter, the airline’s vice president for Labor relations wrote: “Should there come a time where outside assistance in reaching a single agreement does become appropriate, there is a specific negotiated provision” in a transition agreement with the previous pilot union, the Air Line Pilots Association.

Pilots at the carrier ousted ALPA and formed their current independent union a year ago because of dissatisfaction with the process for integrating pilots from the two airlines that make up the new US Airways.

“We’ve been negotiating for a long time now. The pilots are very frustrated by a lack of progress. It’s our preference to move that process along now,” said union president Steve Bradford.

US Airways spokesman Jonathan Freed said either side can request a mediator under the transition agreement, but the National Mediation Board process is different.

“US Airways wants to achieve a single contract for all pilots,” he said.

US Airways shares gained 25 cents, or 9.6 percent, at $2.85 in afternoon trading on a day when most airline stocks rose.

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