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O’Melveny’s Hollinger Quoted in Bloomberg BNA on Role of Labor Agreements in Airline MergerMarch 18, 2013 The March 15, 2013, Bloomberg BNA Labor & Employment Law Report article “Labor Talks in American Airlines Bankruptcy Succeeded Due to Unique Facts, Lawyers Say” reports that “the circumstances surrounding the cost-cutting labor agreements negotiated by American Airlines and three unions in 2012 during Chapter 11 restructuring were unique in the recent history of airline bankruptcies, according to attorneys who represented the parties and the carrier's merger partner, US Airways.”
O’Melveny & Myers LLP partner Chris Hollinger, who represented US Airways, remarked that American Airlines' Section 1113 process “represented a great opportunity” for US Airways, which was able to “offer labor a better deal” due to the potential cost-savings and increased equity from the merger. Hollinger told Bloomberg BNA that while US Airways had no employment relationship with American's unions, the agreements are enforceable under the Railway Labor Act, and that furthermore, the law is less restrictive than the National Labor Relations Act on the terms and conditions that can be negotiated in the absence of an employment relationship. “You usually don't see unions supporting a merger of their airline with another,” he said. He described the positive relations that developed between US Airways and the three unions as “a crucial element to getting a deal done.”
Hollinger is a member of O’Melveny’s Labor and Employment Practice and resides in the Firm’s San Francisco office.