Alaska Airlines v. Schurke: A Victory for Flight Attendants and Airline Workers!

April 5, 2019 — On Monday, we won a major victory for application of state benefits for Flight Attendants. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Alaska Airline’s appeal of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Alaska v. Schurke -- meaning the Ninth Circuit's decision in our favor stands. In Schurke, the entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (11 Judges) ruled that an Alaska Airlines Flight Attendant could use her accrued leave to care for a sick child under Washington State’s Family Care Act even though the collective bargaining agreement did not provide that benefit. This is a huge win for airline workers!

In the decision, the Court found that the RLA does not preempt the Washington State Family Care Act because the claim did not arise from the CBA. Just because you have to look to the CBA to collect information or get evidence, does not automatically preclude Flight Attendants from using state law. In other words, there was no dispute over the meaning of the CBA language. If a dispute over the language of the CBA existed, then it would have been a “minor dispute” subject to resolution in arbitration - the grievance process with which AFA would be most familiar.

As a result of this case, an important legal precedent has been established that gives airline workers even stronger access to rights created by state law, even when they are covered by CBAs.

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