Motion alleges five terminations were disproportionate to penalties

MCMINNVILLE — The Air Line Pilots Association has filed a motion with a federal bankruptcy court to allow grievance proceedings to proceed concerning five Evergreen International Aviation pilots who were “unjustly” fired in 2013 as the company deteriorated.

Led by Capt. James Touchette, then chairman of the pilots’ association Evergreen Master Executive Council, the July 30 motion outlines the five instances of “disproportionate penalties” from May 25 to Sept. 13, 2013.

“For many years preceding Evergreen’s bankruptcy, the company discharged pilots infrequently — firing perhaps one pilot every two to three years — and did so only for the most serious offense,” Touchette wrote in the motion. “Most pilot disciplinary issues were handled short of discharge. However, in 2013, as Evergreen’s financial position deteriorated, the company went on a rampage of unjustified firings. These terminations were all for alleged misconduct that had nothing to do with the ability of the discharged pilots to competently and safely operate the company’s aircraft.”

The motion included examples of the wrongful firings:

First Officer Stephen Summers for allegedly damaging a hotel van.

First Officer Thomas Gorski for allegedly using the company email system for personal gain. “Evergreen management, however, produced no evidence that Gorski in fact realized any gain,” according to the motion.

First Officers Joseph Miller and Nathan Kramer for alleged unauthorized use of the company’s computer network.

Touchette for breaching confidentiality “by approving an ALPA press release that accurately asserted that Evergreen had failed to pay contributions to the pilots’ pension plan and to meet other financial commitments to Evergreen’s pilots.”

“These discharges caused the pilots serious economic and reputational harm,” the suit alleges. “The firings caused them to lose the wages and benefits on which they and their families depended. Moreover, the discharges severely limited the ability of the pilots to find new jobs in the industry.”

Touchette notes that to his knowledge none of the five pilots have found work, except for one at a small cargo carrier.

In 2013, the ALPA filed grievances challenging the discharges with Evergreen, but allege the company refused to process the claims. The union then filed a separate grievance over the refusal to process the original claim. The grievances were then submitted to the Evergreen Crewmember System Board of Adjustment. But before the motion could be heard by the board, EIA filed for bankruptcy.

The new motion with the Delaware bankruptcy court seeks to compel arbitration over the dismissals. ALPA has also asked the EIA trustee, Alfred T. Giuliano, for arbitration and allege that he has not agreed.

The motion is scheduled for a hearing Sept. 17. The union declined to comment on the matter.

Contract Publishing

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