In a complaint filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Indianapolis on April 21, ALPA contends that ATA violated the federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN. The WARN Act requires businesses with more than 100 workers to notify their employees 60 days in advance of any plant closing or mass layoff.
“ATA let go almost all of its 2,230 employees, including approximately 892 active and furloughed pilots and flight engineers, with no warning whatsoever. We were notified the same day as the shutdown,” said Capt. Steve Staples, chairman of ALPA's ATA pilot group. “The WARN Act was specifically created to ban employers from shutting down in the dark of night, and we believe ATA's actions are a clear violation of the law.”
Because ATA did not give its employees the required 60 days' notice, ALPA's complaint demands a judgment against Indianapolis-based ATA and its holding company, Global Aero Logistics of Peachtree City, Ga., for 60 days' back pay and benefits, with interest. The ALPA suit also requests that the Court allow any judgment against ATA to be paid as a priority administrative expense of the bankruptcy estate, ahead of other claims.
“We believe that management was well aware of the likelihood that ATA would be forced to shut down, and gave advance warning to government entities and business partners while keeping ATA's imminent collapse a secret from their own employees,” Staples said. “This is inexcusable, unlawful conduct and should not be tolerated.”
ALPA filed the lawsuit against both ATA and Global Aero because it believes Global and ATA constitute a single business enterprise.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world's largest pilots union, representing 56,000 pilots at 41 airlines in the U.S. and Canada.