Contract Airline Services

"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Weaponization of Mental Health

FedEx this time...
And Delta becomes involved

Do not underestimate the power of a Airline Freighter falling on your house. Despite no passengers on board these aircraft can do as much damage to anyone on the ground when something goes wrong. The following event was in an Airbus A310 aircraft. Planes get old, equipment fails, and the very reason we need pilots. You'll see why two pilots are equally as important. 

December 2015, Phil Seubert and his captain operated an Atlanta-Newark leg in an Airbus 310. The fuel slip and flight release indicated they had 62,500 lbs of fuel on board. The flight plan stated that fuel at destination would be 40,000 lbs because they were tankering fuel. The flight proceeded normally, and the fuel gauges, totalizer readings, fuel used readings, and Flight Management System indications agreed with each other and indicated that the aircraft had consumed about 18,000 lbs of fuel. But, just prior to turning on approach the fuel system reading increased to 61,000 lbs of total fuel, and froze! 

Phil Seubert and the captain flew the airspeed hook, the only indication that provided them an accurate maneuvering speed because it utilized angle of attack. They landed immediately due to the unknown fuel state. An example like this is why every pilot should have a deep level of understanding of their aircraft systems, as these pilots did. They wrote up the incident upon landing. When maintenance installed a new fuel computer on the aircraft, the fuel system reset to 2,900 lbs "total fuel" and a fuel low light came on for the first time. But maintenance said there was still 40,000 lbs of fuel onboard despite these indications, but they would continue to research the issue. 

Phil and the captain jumpseated to Norfolk Virginia to continue the rest of their scheduled trip. The next night, having returned to Newark, Phil Seubert discovered that maintenance had confirmed only 2,500 lbs of fuel was onboard by dipping the tanks. The aircraft had essentially run out of fuel. 

Phil took pictures documenting the fuel issues and filed an Aviation Safety Action Program (“ASAP”) report within 24 hours of the initial incident, which was transmitted to the FAA and flight management. 

But, instead of investigating the aircraft’s airworthiness, FedEx Fleet Captain Dolores Pavletic began issuing Flight Crew Information Files (“FCIFs”) blaming Phil and the captain for inattention to fuel indications, even though the fuel indications reflected the expected fuel levels until just prior to the flight’s approach.

Phil undertook his own research to identify the reason for the inaccurate fuel reading. He discovered that the aircraft had landed in Atlanta with 21,000 fuel lbs and then was shutdown. When power was restored the fuel system indicated 62,500 fuel lbs, although no fuel had been added. Maintenance had accepted that reading and entered it on the fuel slip and load manifest. The absence of a chain of custody for fuel settings created a dangerous scenario and led to a violation of FARs that requires an accurate load manifest. 

The FCIFs filed against Phil Seubert showed FedEx’s hostility toward him and his safety concerns, therefore, he felt compelled to raise the fuel issue again with FedEx management because they were not taking action to solve the problem, but instead blaming the pilots. 

It turns out that they were not tankering anything. If the previous flight had even a 1000 pounds less than 21,000 pounds on shutdown, Seubert's plane would have flamed out both engines on arrival killing all those on the ground in Newark. Furthermore, there could have been just enough fuel to break ground in Atlanta, but not enough altitude to turn and glide back in. This is a significant safety concern with a potential for what could have been a catastrophic event, but for the grace of God. In subsequent communications to FedEx management, Phil recommended five courses of action designed to improve safety and prevent future fuel reading errors: 
  1. Fix the Fuel Low light per certificate requirements. 
  2. Ground the fleet until the proper investigation could be conducted. 
  3. Mandate a running fuel log in the logbook. 
  4. Make Aircraft Communications, Addressing and Reporting System (“ACARS”) entries for shutdown fuel and fuel added and independently track entries in the flight logbook. 
  5. Require calculations for zero fuel weight approach speeds so crews can estimate the fuel state. 
FedEx management was minimally responsive to Phil’s safety recommendations; however, FedEx management attempted to place a written warning in his employee file. Not unlike Delta SVP Steve Dickson asserting that I was a "catalyst for safety", but still sent me into a Section 15 mental health evaluation. FedEx management attacked the messenger instead of thanking him for the suggestions. 

In February 2016, Phil spoke with an FAA inspector, who stated that there had been no report made to the FAA by FedEx as a result of his ASAP report. The lack of a report indicated that FedEx had either suppressed the ASAP report or had failed to disseminate critical information to the FAA. On the other hand, reports have disappeared at the FAA. 

If you do everything you can to fix the problem but your efforts fall on deaf ears, you leave that equipment and upgrade to a captain on a newer fleet. That's what Phil did. He checked out as captain, first on the B757 and then he went to the B767.

In the spring of 2021, Captain Seubert flew a FedEx route from Memphis to Toluca during which there appeared a 5,000 lbs discrepancy in weight and balance due to the presence of an undocumented 5,000 lb cart. On a subsequent leg of the same trip, another weight balance issue arose that required "significant in-flight abnormal control adjustments during takeoff and landing to avoid aircraft damage". What is significant to one, is catastrophic to another. You decide: 

Captain Seubert was on takeoff roll at V2+20 and his nose was at 7 degrees up, but they were still on the runway! There was no way to abort. The only thing he could do was use his skills and get that plane airborne. That's exactly what Phil did. He knew, however, that they would be required to land the beast with the same out of balance situation. Therefore, he dug into the performance charts and worked this math problem backwards, figuring out what the CG must have been, based upon the performance, then figured out an accurate landing speed and adjusted accordingly.

Phil immediately reported the weight discrepancy to FedEx’s On Duty Pilot. The On Duty Pilot responded that similar weight discrepancy issues had “been happening lately.” Phil reported the incident directly to Fleet Captain Kevin Whearty in Captain Whearty’s office. Phil also raised the incident in training sessions that followed the incident. Based on his experience and his higher level of understanding, I would believe this would be a very heightened concern. 


It would be so much easier if airlines would solve the problem, instead of killing the messenger. But when that messenger has nine lives, and the company is running out of options... my advice is don't go to court and air your dirty laundry, just apologize and do the right thing. 

How Many Bullets to Get Rid of a Pilot?

Bullet 1: Section 15 

December 17, 2021 prostan called Phil and reported a pilot complaint. He characterized the entire complaint a nothing more than a "political vendetta/dispute.

December 18, 2021 Phil was grounded. FedEx immediately put Phil into a Section 15, without rationale. Section 15 is a psychiatric evaluation process that I, too, experienced at Delta for my reporting safety. Funny thing is, unlike my neuropsychological testing and the three-days in Chicago over period of many months, and being dead-bolted in a room with Dr. Altman for the evaluation, Phil's psychiatric evaluation consisted of a singular recorded phone call with Dr. Fred Tilton and a representative from Harvey Watt insurance company. 

December 20, 2021, Phil's evaluation began. 

Phil stated that Dr. Tilton opened with 20 rapid-fire questions without taking a breath. Phil responded by stating, "Doc I can answer questions one at a time, please, pick just one."

That's when Dr. Tilton lots it, so much so that at the end of the this mental health evaluation he apologized to Phil for his behavior. He said something to the effect of "I'm sorry I had to get a little nasty." Phil took it as that was the goal to goad him. So Phil said, "You were just doing your job. Happy New Year." 

January 3, 2022, Phil passed this mental health evaluation. He suspects it was only due to the embarrassment that Dr. Fred Tilton would face to have that audio go anywhere. I haven't heard it yet, but I will at the trial and therefore it will find its way to Youtube. I suspect, based upon what I've been told, that this call may indicate that the doctor was a screaming banshee and the patient was composed. Hard to make an adverse diagnosis when that happens, even if the company is paying you to do so. These retaliatory evaluations are conducted by bought-and-paid-for doctors. Medical Fraud Abuse is living practice.

They were expeditious in this process for Phil compared to my evaluation process. My process was 18 months, whereas Phil's was only 16 days. 


When bullet 1 misses, bullet 2 is ready to be fired!   

Bullet 2: Section 19

January 4, 2022 Phil received disciplinary action. When the Section 15 failed to do the job, FedEx placed Phil on disciplinary action the very next day. Now, the fact that they have nothing to discipline him for, but an unverified report, they needed to create something. 


FedEx found three first officers to write a complaint, "after" he was placed into disciplinary action of which they stated in their letters, "per your request" indicating these were solicited reports. Then these pilots used the same wording in each of their reports. I am most certain that these boys will find themselves in management one day, and the judge will smell a rat. Regardless, this wasn't enough. 

Fleet Captain Kevin Whearty was already conducting a "lookback." This is the same tactic Delta uses on their pilots. This is also the same chief pilot that Phil reported to regarding weight and balance concerns. 

David DeBerry provided Whearty a background. He stated, "Let me know if this is what you're looking for on Phil Seubert, I can did a little deeper if needed." 

Phil had no training failures. He had no violations. The only issues in his life were tragic. His fiance had died a year before this all began and on May 19, 2021 his son was killed. When his son passed he had to argue with the company to keep his assigned vacation in order to grieve and be with his other children. 

Phil had worked for Delta back in the day, and had left in 2006. So they went deeper, and the hunt for dirt moved to Delta Air Lines. 

Apparently Delta has not learned their lesson after losing my AIR21 trial and losing their subsequent appeal, because they are now helping FedEx to do the same thing to a pilot for reporting safety concerns. There are some missing pieces to the chain of emails. I suspect the request came via a phone call, or perhaps they withheld documents in discovery as Delta did in my case. Either way, this is what we know:

On January 31, 2021 the email exchange began as the result of the Delta search. 

Delta Air Lines Fleet Captain Bill Thurber wrote to Delta Air Lines Managing Director of Training, Rich Kaynor: 

Subject line: FedEx. Instructor Phil Seubert Mystery Solved. 

"Hi Rich, Doug Howard's Phil Seubert did indeed have a chapter with our Company. His personal record is below; I have no idea why he left us. From his PQIS file I see a quick run through the 767B seat with subsequent categories in the 737B and M88B seat. I do not see a CAGS nor POI code on his record."

Rich Kaynor forwards this information to Sarah Howard and simply writes, "Interesting...."

Sarah howard forwards this information to Doug Howard, and writes. 

"He was a Delta line pilot for 5 1/2 years but was never in the training dept. There's a story there for sure but who knows what it was." 

Sarah is not using a FedEx email. Is she Doug's wife? Is she trying to keep this off the record? I don't. But I am happy to clear up the big mystery. While their subject line say's mystery solved, I think there is some confusion as to why he left. 

Leaving Delta Mystery

Rich, Bill, Doug, and Sarah, the "story" and reason Phil left Delta was that he had only 5 years invested, more than enough time to see the culture and the writing on the wall with company mismanagement. At the time Delta was headed in the toilet. Delta had even filed bankruptcy in 2005. He viewed FedEx to be a better career life match for longevity. Any pilot would think that was a no-brainer career shift. 


When bullets 1 and 2 miss the target, they fire bullet 3. 

Bullet 3: HIMS

ALPA tells Phil he will be terminated immediately if he doesn't enter HIMS (The Alcohol Substance Abuse program). Bill Tenner, from the FedEx HIMS program reached out to Phil via text messages. He and Phil met for breakfast, at which time Bill attempted to sell Phil on the HIMS program. 

Phil said, "The problem is,  I don't drink."  

Bill responds, "That doesn't matter. Exercising too much can be an addiction too."

Bill Tenner

One of the many issues with the HIMS program is that the reason a pilot drinks is not addressed. Just removes the crutch if that is the reason. If you replace one crutch with another, such as food for alcohol, you're simply eating your feelings no longer drinking them. A heart attack ready to happen. The very reason we need two pilots at all times. But often pilots commit suicide in this program. The chair of Delta's HIMS program did just that. 

The second reason I have issue with the HIMS program is that airlines use this program as a tool of retaliation, not unlike Section 15, to rid itself of pilots. They place you in the program and administer a non-FDA approved Dry Blood Spot (DBS) PEth test that is known to produce false positives... career over. This is what happened to Delta Captain Ratfield as a form of retaliation. The reason to put her in HIMS because she was "raped" is almost more ridiculous than putting a pilot in the program who doesn't drink. 

Furthermore, does anyone think that telling a pilot who doesn't drink that the HIMS program is his get out of jail free card because he exercises too much?

The HIMS program is a free ticket to termination,
via a connection through hell.

Warning to Pilots


When bullets 1, 2 and 3 miss, fire number 4! 

Bullet 4: PATH

They failed the Section 15, couldn't get dirt from Delta, he refused to into the HIMS program, what could possibly be next? "PATH" 

May 2022, Kandy Bernskoetter reached out to Phil to get him into the PATH program: 

"PATH is available for pilots seeking 
psychological, or
medical assistance."

Phil has only been seeking fixes to the maintenance problems that could have been catastrophic on multiple accounts. I know Kandy. She assisted connecting me to some pilots during my research, after I was cleared. However, during my event, unbeknownst to me, she had reached out to her counterpart at Delta, Mark Pinsky, to ask about my being diagnosed bipolar. FedEx appears to have an open door with Delta when they are snooping into a pilot's life.

She told me that she did not believe that could happen later in life and asked Mark Pinsky. Mark said, "Yes, it can. Ask my sister, she's a psychiatrist." Then Mark put Kandy on the phone with his sister the psychiatrist who told Kandy why I could be bipolar later in life.

I'm uncertain if Kandy knew at the time that ALPA legal had been trying to convince me to go to Mark Pinsky's sister as the final and binding doctor. I had refused because of a conflict of interest, a violation of the contract and those little hairs were standing up. Kandy did not share this information with me until after I was cleared and returned to work. Therefore I dodged a bullet on my own. I later asked her to testify. She refused. I told her I planned to subpoena her, and she became livid.  

Kandy Bernskoetter

Now Kandy is encouraging Phil to go down the mental path in another manner, on his own, despite a clearance during his mental health evaluation, followed by his refusal into HIMS due to his lack of alcohol consumption. 


When bullets 1, 2, 3, and 4 end up in a brick wall, fire bullet 5!  

Bullet 5: Threaten IRS Action

ALPA is now agitated and threatening. Why do they care? Good question. Phil has gone non-qual; therefore, he doesn't need sick leave, he can't fly because of the company having pulled him. They have to pay him. However, ALPA is pissed he's not using up his sick leave. They threaten him with the IRS because they assert he is not filing his taxes properly. I faced the same issue (less the IRS threat). Delta made me use not only my sick leave, but vacation too. I should have been as smart as Phil, because I was non-qualed and did not have to use my sick leave or vacation. The judge, however, made Delta reimburse me for vacation and the sick leave was a use it or lose it option. 

For Phil, and me, ALPA would not make any effort to find any discovery for the pending grievance hearings. How far will this go? 


When bullets 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 miss, let's go for number 6, the final round in the chamber.

Bullet 6: The Hearing

Throughout all this time, Phil had never seen a written complaint. He asked ALPA over and over again. He then goes out on disability due to sleep issues. Clearly exacerbated by the stress of this ongoing attack. Not only from the company, but the knowledge that ALPA is helping FedEx, not him.

The letter of complaint finally arrives. But not to Phil, to Captain Sid Graham, 767 Chief Pilot. He received a copy of the complaint on August 4, from Captain Whearty, who received his copy from Veronica Swink. Whearty says, "Thanks Roni" and passes it on. 

Captain Sid Graham
(Any relation to Jim?) 

"Crapping In My Pants"

Sid's response, "Kevin, If I received an email like this with this level of detail I would be crapping in my pants! Shock and awww." 

Phil did not get to crap in his pants, because they had been blocked him from FedEx email. He never received that email. But, one would think a letter of this magnitude detailing his pending grievance hearing and the complaint, that would be held on August 13, 2022, would have been presented to him in a timely manner. Well, at the very least before the hearing. 

Captain Phil Seubert was finally invited to his own hearing on September 3, 2022, three weeks after the hearing date of August 13, with a FedEx delivery. While the company manufactured past events in this document, if any event they alluded to in their final hour attack were true, they were required by law to address those events at the time of occurrence if they impacted safety, or were in fact a violation of any kind. Not 1-2 years later, after they fired 5 bullets to get rid of him. 

Fighting Back with 
and Attorney Lee Seham

There is nobody that understands labor law and the AIR21 statute better than Lee Seham. Phil is in good hands, and is scheduled for trial in November. Precedent has already been established that a psychiatric evaluation is retaliation. I think we should create precedent the many other ways they tried to get him as retaliation, too, such as the HIMS program, digging up dirt with another company, requesting reports "after" the pilot was placed in disciplinary action.  

Phil meets all elements of the AIR21. Why are they going to trial? Perhaps the same reason Delta did... ignorance, ego, insurance paying their fees and a war of attrition. Like bad gamblers, they could not walk away from the table even though they lost with each flop of the cards. I hope that the board of directors at FedEx will understand that Airlines should invest in fixing their equipment, verus attempting to rid itself of pilots who report safety concerns. There is an amicable solution. But, if they go to trial, we'll have the courtroom full. 

A month before everyone's bidding schedule, I'll provide the date and time of this trial. These are public trials and the public is invited to watch. 

If you haven't signed my petition yet, please do so: 

Until we slap punitive damages on these airlines and hold all individuals involved accountable, airlines will continue to persecute pilots for reporting safety. Until we eliminate the RLA, ALPA will continue, pilots be damned, to use the arbitration process to rid itself of pilots airline management wants gone. 

Enjoy the Journey! 
Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727

Friday, May 19, 2023

Luck and the Arbitration Process

Justice Be Damned!

Years ago a young attorney defended a pilot at an arbitration. The case was so-so, but he won. Then this attorney came up against the same arbitrator on the next case, and that case was not that strong either, but he still won. Then, he finally had case with a pilot so strong there was no way he could lose. This pilot had all the facts in his favor. As it turned out, the attorney was up against the same arbitrator as the previous two times.

They greeted each other, and then the arbitrator said, "You do know, you're going to lose today."

The attorney said, "But you haven't even heard the facts, and we have a very strong case."

The arbitrator said, "You don't understand. Today is your 'turn' to lose."

Arbitrators are Businessmen

It's been said that arbitration is another form of prostitution by figuratively screwing someone. But instead of pleasing one person, arbitrators are paid to please two. These businessmen and women dance a fine line and determine whose turn it is to win. If they don't do what their bosses say, they're off the list. If the Airline controls the union, as with Delta and ALPA, the results are evident. Let the little cases go to the pilots, but those that have associated lawsuits must go to the company. Sometimes the arbitrator doesn't have to think very hard to figure who to rule for.... they just need ten minutes. 

Arbitration has nothing to do 
with Justice for the pilot 

In the article ALPA the Puppet, Delta the Puppet Master I provided an overview of how ALPA worked with Delta in effort to remove me from duty. The events of my case can be found in the Seattle Times, if you missed it. In the ALPA post, you'll see the multiple times Delta went to an extraordinary effort to engage Arbitrator Carol Wittenberg. Not once. Not twice. But three times! The third time being a binding mediation. 

Carol Wittenberg

"Once is happenstance. 
Twice is coincidence. 
Three times is enemy action."
Ian Fleming 

After trial, awaiting the ruling I finally was able to take my grievances to hearing. My goal was to hold the company accountable for the many ways that Delta violated the contract in this process. Below is the list of violations. At each point, I could have filed a DFR because ALPA was participatory in, or knew of, all actions. Instead, I decided we would ensure that this never happened again. I gave ALPA the chance to redeem themselves.  Huge, huge mistake. 

List of Violations:

1. The Company compromised the Section 15 process by selecting Dr. David B. Altman to participate in the pre-Section 15 determination process and, thereafter, allowing Dr. Altman to participate in the post-Section 15 process notwithstanding the clear conflict of interest; 

2. The Company and Delta DHS Dr. Thomas Faulkner selected the CME prior to the DHS and the ALPA Aeromedical advisor, currently identified as AMAS (Dr. Riccitello), conferring to the choice of the CME in violation of Section 15 B. 4.;  (We later learned Puckett Selected Altman, and advised Falkner.)

3. The Company [Puckett], and/or DHS Dr. Faulkner, selected the CME six weeks prior to the DHS’s required initial assessment to determine if there was a reason to believe I may not meet the physical standards in violation of Section 15 B. 1. c.; 

4. The Company provided the CME my safety report and a link to my blog one week prior to my being placed into a medical evaluation; the aforementioned documents were not medically relevant and, therefore, the furnishing of this information constituted a violation of Section 15 B. 6.; 

5. The Company provided the CME a 4 lb. notebook of documents that were not medically relevant in violation of Section 15 B. 6., prior to Company Labor Relations attorney Puckett and Captain Phil Davis spending 10.5 hours discussing this non-medically relevant information with the CME; 

6. The Company invited the CME to multiple meetings as a participant in the decision to place me under a Section 15 in violation of Section 15 B. 3., and subsequently paid him $74,000 for his review, when the average mental health evaluation is $3500. 

7. The Company authorized the DHS to provide the FAA the CME’s diagnosis and full report prior to the Neutral Medical Examiner (NME) evaluation, contrary to the PWA instruction that the CME will not report his determination until the completion of the NME evaluation, in violation of Section 15 B. 7. b. 

8. After the Company authorized the violation of Section 15. B. 7. b., where the DHS provided the CMEs medical report to the FAA, the subsequent FAA medical appeals evaluation overruled the CME’s report, yet the Company denied the return to duty, despite the FAA appeal procedures in violation of Section 15. B. 8. g. 

9. The Company offered Dr. Gitlow—a forensic psychiatrist retained as the Pilot Medical Examiner (PME)—a more lucrative contract with the conditions that Dr. Gitlow would not participate in my evaluation if he were to work with Delta. This interference is in violation of the selection of the PME Section 15. B. 8. b.; 

10. The Company advised the CME, “I would emphasize is that ultimately picking an NME is your call” in violation of the PWA requirements of a mutual agreement between the CME and PME, Section 15. B. 8. d.; 

11. The Company allowed for and encouraged an extensive delay through its overt participation and proffering an enormous amount of non-medically related information to the CME, that delayed the CME diagnosis for nine months; the Company also delayed the acceptance of NME’s confirmation on September 2, 2017 until September 26, 2017, both violating the PWA requirement that the review be conducted as “expeditiously as possible” Section 15. B. 10.; and 

12. The Company was required to convey to the CME that the pilot be provided with a written notice of the CME’s determination in addition to an expedient process. However, the Company was notified of the false bipolar diagnosis in October, 2016, yet the CME did not provide written notice until December 24, 2016, in violation of Section 15. B. 7. a., and Section 15. B. 10.

October 15, 2019, the day of my arbitration hearing, I noticed that Delta's counsel Jeff Wall had all the binders from the AIR21 trial. I voiced my objection to my ALPA attorney. This grievance was not about my AIR21 case. I told my ALPA National attorney, Jeff Loesel, I would not proceed if these were to be used. In response, Loesel objected to these documents at beginning of the hearing. He made it perfectly clear that the reason they put me into the section 15 was not at issue [I had dropped that grievance two years earlier]. Jeff Wall agreed! Arbitrator Wallin agreed. This was not about the AIR21. 

Delta also had in their possession, emails between myself and ALPA legal. I challenged this. Loesel agreed it was a violation of confidentiality, yet nothing ever came of that. 

I later learned that the assertion and agreements between all parties about abstaining from my AIR21 case, was only so I would continue with this grievance hearing. ALPA and Delta, with the help of the Arbitrator, were setting me up and needed this process to continue. 

Attorney Jeff Wall

At the opening of the grievance hearing Jeff Wall stated:  

"This proceeding here, in the view of Delta Air Lines, is not a proceeding in which the Association and Delta are necessarily opposing parties.

 First Officer Petitt has repeatedly criticized, and I would suggest even defamed representatives of the Association, including representatives of the national organization for ALPA, local counsel for ALPA, and other ALPA representatives, including what’s known as AMAS, of ALPA Aeromedical."

Jeff Loesel ( my National ALPA attorney remained silent. He did not object that ALPA and Delta were not opposing parties! His silence told arbitrator Gerald E. Wallin that he agreed with Jeff Wall and that Delta and ALPA were in this together against me.

This little old man [don't be misled by the photo... he's aged] stared at Jeff Wall while he spoke. He turned his head and looked a Jeff Loesel for a response. Loesel sat there with a  blank stare, lips closed. 

A very old Photo of Gerald E. Wallin

Arbitrator Gerald Wallin then immediately requested a "ten minute break" in the proceedings to:

“Sit here and think about things for a while.” 

I guess for some, it takes ten minutes to understand the obvious. But then again, Wallin only charges $2250 per day so he could be a little slower than most. Arbitration is a very lucrative business. 

After his ten minute break, Walliln returned to my hearing and ended it without any evidence being presented. He claimed I was time-barred on all the grievances. Hmmm. Would ALPA have even proceeded if that had been true? But, he then asserted he would think about proceeding and determine if we could continue. I waited for months, calling ALPA, emailing often, and heard nothing. Until I did, from Delta. 

On March 3, 2020, Delta filed a Motion to Admit New Evidence of the Arbitration Award and Motion for Brief Stay of Proceedings.  Attached was a System Board of Adjustment (SBA) opinion and order dated January 27, 2020 and, contrary to standard practice, was signed by only the company representatives and the Arbitrator. Delta claimed the “newly issued award” rejected my theory that Delta’s initiation of the Section 15 process was in retaliation for my reporting alleged safety issues. They asserted that collateral estoppel prevailed because Delta won the grievance, therefore our nine-day trial didn't count. 

How could that be? My grievances were not about causation, only the violations of the contract. And ALPA asserted they didn't know about this. Something was amok. 

The Opinion Letter

Wallin asserted the grievances before him were untimely. But that was not the first thing he said. He asserted that Delta won the grievance that I had dropped years earlier. The same grievance that all parties agreed would not be discussed at the hearing regarding the AIR21. He said the 2016 Graham decision, the perpetrator who played judge in his own actions, was final and binding with respect to the issue of the Section 15 process because if a grievance is not complete in two years, the company wins. But I had withdrawn mine. That did not matter. Nor did it matter this was not an issue before Wallin. 

The ALPA representatives of the executive board, Captain Ron Hay and Captain Monty Montgomery, were sitting at the table on October 15, 2019 when Jeff Loesel emphasized my concerns that the proceedings must not touch the AIR21 complaint in any manner. Jeff Wall, Delta counsel, and Arbitrator Wallin both agreed any decision regarding the pending grievances would not interfere with the AIR 21 proceeding.  

Therefore, ALPA’s executive board knew the AIR 21 elements were not to be addressed, as did ALPA attorney Jeff Loesel, and they were obligated as system board members and as ALPA representatives to have identified the gratuitous nature of the ruling on a grievance that was not before Wallin. Captain Ron Hay and Captain Monty Montgomery, the ALPA board, allowed the language to remain. Typically these boards allow the ruling to go through, but they have the ability to change the language. Shame on those two pilots. 

My ruling did not come out in May 2020. And while it did not change the outcome, just delayed it until December, ALPA cost me thousands of dollars in attorney fees fighting this. 

"There comes a point in every man's life 
when he has to say: 'Enough is enough.'"
Lance Armstrong

The above quote most certainly applies to women too. I finally filed a DFR. Duty of Fair Representation. These are very difficult to win, most attorneys won't touch them. ALPA knows this. If you can get to a jury, you win. But the trick is getting there unless you have a recording stating your union won't represent you. This is the problem: Your dues pay for the legal counsel. Granted you don't get a choice who that is. But, it's technically your fault if you employ an incompetent attorney. And incompetence versus lack of representation is subjective in nature. 

 "The obscure we see eventually.  
The completely obvious,  
it seems, takes longer."
Edward R. Murrow

ALPA is the only union 
Delta allows on its property 

The reason the government created the AIR21 statute is because because "safety cannot be in the hands of a businessman". If the government knows that the RLA arbitration process is a negotiated business affair, of which safety cannot be part of, then why is the pilot career subject to such fraud and manipulation?

When the AIR21 law was enacted, I believe that it was designed for "show" only, and airline executives allowed it into place because the law doesn't hold anyone accountable, has minimal financial consequences, with minimal protection for the employee. The law opens the door for abuse and a war of attrition against the employee. I am asking everyone to please sign this petition to change the law.  We can fix this, but I need your help. 

I filed my DFR and that has become another story of the legal system... 

Until then, 
Enjoy the Journey

Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

ALPA: The Puppet

Delta: The Puppet Master

The pilot pays for this puppet show, with a whopping 1.9% of their salary. Nothing is exempt. Not profit sharing. Not sick leave. Not vacation pay. Not even when ALPA costs you your job, but you fight like hell and run your attorney bills up and get your job back without their help, and the company has to make you whole with back pay, ALPA still swoops in and takes their cut. Even though they did not represent you. In my case it was more than lack of representation. 

Imagine paying that kind of money and learning that your union was working with the company to remove you from duty, but not just your job, but to ground you for life. That's exactly what happened with me, ALPA, and Delta. 

This would be similar to moving into a community where the requirement to live there is a payment of $5,000-$10,000 per year for dues. If you don't pay, you don't stay. But you get 24/7 security. Then you learn that your security guards are not just looking the other way when your house is being robbed, but they unlocked the door and they held it open for the bad guys to rape you, too. 

When Delta paid a doctor $74K to give me a false and permanently medically disqualifying diagnosis, and spent the better part of two years, plotting, planning, and creating pretext (detailed in Flight For Discovery) the question asked most often: 

"Where Was ALPA?" 

The answer...
Right there in the heart of it 
helping Delta!

Below is what transpired by ALPA Attorneys, Rachel Samuda and Gordon Rose. But these attorneys worked for their bosses at National. National ALPA directs all local attorneys. National ALPA controls the local representation of Delta. I wrote to the ALPA MEC chairman, Jason Ambrosi, to request his assistance to investigate and hold Samuda accountable for her part in what transpired, after Attorney Betty Ginsberg from National ignored my pleas for an investigation. Ambrosi stated:

"I want you to know that I have directly worked with Rachel Samuda and have found her work on behalf of the Delta pilots to be a credit to ALPA. In my opinion, Delta pilots are fortunate to have Rachel on our legal team."

Jason Ambrosi conducted no investigation. He subsequently became the next ALPA National President. Just another in a long line of "Delta" Captains running National ALPA. 

Many ALPA representatives apologized for what ALPA did, but they were not there at the time or couldn't do anything to stop it. One ALPA representative asked me how I knew when not to trust ALPA attorneys. I told him that their behavior and actions did not make sense. When my gut told me something was wrong, I wouldn't follow their advice. I did what I thought to be the best course of action. Had I listened to my ALPA attorneys I would have been buried many times over. 

My advice to any pilot is to trust but verify. Don't put your life or career in someone else's hands. Below is what transpired with ALPA. These are only the highlights, the details would fill a book. Today is just to create context for what will be coming next week. 

Don't do it, they're going to get you! 

My Seattle Captain Rep, Jud Crane, told me that he thought that the company would give me a Section 15 if I proceeded with a meeting. At the time I did not know what a Section 15 was, but could not believe that an internal report to help the company would be anything but positive. What I didn't know was that Captain Jud Crane had knowledge of Jim Graham's November 9, 2015 email asserting that was planning to do this to me after I had met with him and Dickson. Jud knew this was a fact, not speculation. He also refused to testify in fear that his disability would be removed. 

Once Jud knew that I would be meeting with Steve Dickson and James Graham, he advised me to speak to an ALPA attorney first. I agreed. I met with Rachel Samuda the day prior to my reporting safety concerns to leadership. She spent the better part of the 3 hours trying to convince me to not give anything in writing to Graham and Dickson. Had I listened to her, my case would have been a he said/she said non-winning defence. 

Rachel's reasoning for not giving them anything in writing was, "It's the attorney in me to not put things in writing. Besides, they (Dickson and Graham) are so corporate they're scary."

Put EVERYTHING in Writing!
Copy many people! 
Nothing is Anonymous. 
Your documentation will be your protection.

When I was pulled from duty, ALPA attorneys Gordon and Rachel advised me to take "unpaid leave" and not go to neuropsychological testing. Both ALPA attorneys knew that if I took unpaid leave, I would never return. I would also have not received any pay through the initial process to fight this battle. Because I did not listen to them, I received a paycheck for the first nine months of my battle.  

I have hundreds of emails from Rachel Samuda of which she refused to answer any questions. When she did she was evasive at best. She defended the company. When I asked her to clarify a paragraph in the contract, she copied and pasted the paragraph. 

At no time did any ALPA attorney, or representative, ever advise me of the Section 15 process, despite my begging for help. I was not the first Delta pilot who had gone through this, but Samuda and Rose acted as if I was. Once you are in battle with the company, your local representatives step back and allow the attorneys to run with the issue. At least in my case. 

Dr. Tom Faulkner

Dr. Faulkner (Delta's in house doctor) stated that he and Riccitello (AMAS) agreed to send me to Dr. Altman. That joint selection is a PWA contractual process. Discovery, however, showed that Delta's labor relations attorney Christopher Puckett selected Altman. Puckett then told Faulkner who they were using. Faulkner then told Dr. Riccitello. Riccitello then pretended he followed the contract. Chris Puckett and Regional Director and Chief Pilot Phil Davis met with Dr. Altman in a Chicago hotel room for 10.5 hours discussing a strategy prior to my evaluation. ALPA never had any objection to this behavior.

Christopher Puckett

Each person involved in my case knowingly violated the contract. When I asked ALPA attorney Gordon Rose if he had any information on Altman he said, "Delta uses lots of doctors. I have no knowledge of Dr. Altman." Samuda said, "I have no personal knowledge of Altman". Please read the attached document of which I later learned that they "ALL" had knowledge of Dr. Altman. Even ALPA's AMAS doctor, Riccitello, knew of him, as he later told me: 

"Dr. Altman is the FAA's Big Gun"
But he's not even an AME

I had reached out to Tim Canoll ALPA National President at the time, a Delta Captain, and sent him this letter for help. He ignored me. I was advised by another ALPA National representative that she was told to distance herself from me. That would not be the first time I heard that statement, or the last. 

At one time I mentioned to Rachel that I had recorded a meeting. She advised me that we were not allowed to record. At the time, I had no idea. But the next meeting I attended, was the first time I was asked if I was recording. Coincidence? Perhaps. 

I have dozens of emails with Samuda that I challenged the company's conduct and violation of the contract, but Rachel always defended the company, not me. She also waited until Friday at the close of business if she were to respond. 
In a grievance I had written, Samuda reworded it to the point of inaccuracy. When I challenged her, she said that it didn't matter at this phase what it said. Of course it did. I rewrote it, and then proceeded to rewrite everything she wrote thereafter. Accuracy is essential. 
Neuropsychological Testing

The biggest joke in the industry
designed to remove pilots
I was subjected to neuropsychological testing. At the time I did not know there was a training facility that Dr. Faulkner and ALPA (AMAS) used for pilots to pass this test. Those that did not have a hit on them, at least. I learned about this in the final hour from another pilot, and asked to delay my testing to prepare. The other pilot was given six months off with pay to study and pass the test that he initially failed. His was not a Section 15, but a concern from his AME. When I asked about training, Dr. Faulkner said that it was impossible to prepare, despite his sending pilots to it. Rachel and Gordon told me that I could not delay and had to proceed as scheduled, even though they knew about this testing facility. I would have had seven weeks to prepare if they had shared that information. 

The neuropsychological testing was scheduled to be completed in one day. This was a three-day process with two days allotted for the testing. When I told the facilitator I was brain dead and asked about this rapid pace, she told me that it was not normal to do all these tests in one day, that my doctor ordered it that way and, "the human brain cannot process this much information in a short amount of time." I voiced my concerns to Dr. Riccitello, Rachel and Gordon, but they did nothing and said that we should just see how it turns out. They made no objection. 

It turned out that Dr. Altman stated I lost my medical in part to the results of my testing. ALPA took no action. One month later the Mayo Clinic said they would not retest me because the results of the first test were "Exceptional in most areas and those that were not, were just fine" and they would learn nothing new. Dr. Altman had lied. ALPA did nothing. 

I had initially filed a grievance for the company sending me into the Section 15 because it was unwarranted. At the time I did not know about the AIR21 statute. When I realized that ALPA was not assisting, I did my research, learned, and I filed an AIR21 Complaint. I was lucky to find this in time because there is only a 90-day statute of limitations and one of the reasons I am trying to change the law.  I had both a grievance under the RLA and a complaint in Federal Court. Yes. You can have both, but we'll learn why Federal Court is where you want to be. But also how the company will use a Collateral Estoppel claim to derail you in the arbitration process. 

Lee Seham

When it finally came time to proceed with this grievance, I employed my AIR21 attorney, Lee Seham, to represent me in the grievance as well, because it was apparent I was not being defended by ALPA. He also knows labor law and the AIR21 statute and could protect me from Delta using this process to derail the AIR21 case. ALPA then advised Delta of Seham's representation, and Delta then employed an outside attorney, Jeff Wall.

Jeff Wall

Throughout this entire process Rachel worked with Delta's labor relations attorney, Chris Puckett. Therefore Delta now needed to employ an attorney with skills to stand up to my attorney, because the company no longer owned the process with ALPA. I was wrong on both accounts. First, Delta still owned the arbitration process. Second, Delta never employed any attorney that has the skills to stand up to Lee Seham. 

The Arbitration process: 
Arbitrators are Paid Businessmen

We have a strike-off process to select an arbitrator. There are 11 arbitrators on a list. We strike, they strike, and so on... until one is left. However, ALPA would not allow me the strike-off process in my case.  

Attorney Jeff Wall requested we go directly to a five-person board, and then he selected four arbitrators and sent us the short list with dates, and said we could pick one of them. However, the 6-month forward schedule of availability had just been released a week earlier, and the dates of availability of his selections were in conflict with that schedule. The only way Jeff Wall would have been able to select dates that were not on that schedule was if he had spoken to each arbitrator. 

Delta's selection of Arbitrators that agreed to work on their days off, on behalf of Delta and ALPA were:  


Died at 94 in 2020

Rachel defended the company's selections. She refused to provide me an overview as to the performance of all the arbitrators on the entire list. She refused a strike-off. She argued as to why the above selections were okay and were not tainted, despite Wall speaking to them and Delta selecting them and no strike-off process. 

Lee finally told Samuda and Jeff Wall that due to ex parte communications we wanted all four struck off.  This grievance discussion was in July of 2017. After Lee voiced his objections, Jeff Wall subsequently disappeared, meaning he made no further contact, and Rachel never mentioned my grievance hearing again. Until she did. 

I was busy trying to get my job back, while Delta continually violated the contract over and over again. Not a day went by that I was not making a call, researching or doing something proactive. I also requested grievances to be written on what I assumed Delta had done in violation. I would later have proof in discovery of these violations, but thanks to ALPA it wouldn't matter. Rachel did not file any of my grievances, which came close to exceeding the time limit when I learned of her lapse. I even found issues in the contract and wrote resolutions to change them, such as pilots with mental health issues being thrown on the street if they don't solve their problem in two years. Then I had to face my attacker. 

James Graham (Jim)

At one time I was ordered to fly to Atlanta with a two day notice, the last day of Delta's time limit to respond to my initial grievance. My Captain Rep made an excuse why he couldn't join me. I had sit in front of Jim Graham, the person who started this process against me, and took the action. Imagine if your judge was your attacker, that's what this was. I later learned that this meeting was supposed to be in my base (Seattle) with my chief pilot. Rachel knew, and said nothing, but allowed this process to happen. 

I never lost my medical
But that didn't matter

I was cleared by the neutral doctor in August of 2017, and Dr. Faulkner told the neutral doctor to do it again with "no expense spared" and Delta would fly out anyone out to him, to assist. ALPA did nothing. The neutral did another evaluation, and in September I was cleared again. But Delta delayed my return for another month with ALPA looking the other way. Every day, for a month, I reached out to Samuda who ignored my calls, and waited until Friday night to respond to any emails as she walked out the door for the weekend.  

It took three months longer than it should have to be reinstated after I was cleared. I never lost my medical. Unfortunately, my daughter who is now in a wheelchair needed another back surgery and I was her caretaker. I needed to use my sick leave and help her. Gordon, Rachel and ALPA contract administrator Hartley Phinney, adamantly argued against me for the right to have my sick leave until after I was trained and back on the flight line. 

The company's position statement said I would immediately be made whole, yet "ALPA" argued against this stating I had to attend training first. Regional Director, Mike Levis, who knew what had been happening but did not have the courage to stop it, gave me a gift of kindness and approved my sick leave. Yet, Hartley Phinney said that he didn't care if I had it, I couldn't use it until after training. Sigh. Yes I could, and I did. 

ALPA Takes Another Victim
On Behalf of the Company?

During this time, Delta Captain Karl Seuring had a grievance hearing, in addition to his AIR21 filing. Rachel scheduled him with Carol Wittenberg. Wittenberg had never done a case for Delta to that point, other than being proferred in my case. I had warned Karl that she was one of the ex parte arbitrators that Delta had selected for my case. He believed in ALPA. He lost his arbitration. He was terminated. 

Carol Wittenberg

The financial Pain!

All along I had been paying supplemental insurance through DPMA, Delta pilot mutual aid, but they refused to pay me the allotted 50% pay while I was out on a forced disability. I had funded my DPMA, and should have had access, and ALPA refused to help remedy this or offer assistance.  They wanted me to sign a document that I was bipolar. I wasn't so I didn't sign.  I never lost my medical. Regardless, I was forced on disability, but wasn't receiving half of what's owed. ALPA wouldn't help. 
One week prior to my initial B777 training was to begin, after being off for two years, Rachel stated we had to get my grievance off the books.  I told her that I was going to be in training, and we did not need to do my grievance at that time, and it could wait until I was done with training. She agreed, but she said they had already selected an arbitrator. 


One of the four arbitrators 
that Jeff Wall had selected a year prior: 
Carol Wittenberg!

Of interest, Carol Wittenberg wasn't even available for the next 9-11 months for this grievance. I shared this inconsistency of the "rush to get it off the books" yet the dates available were not for many months with my captain rep. He agreed it was odd and said he'd look into it. Days later Rachel proffered new, more recent dates.

The day after Rachel notified me that Wittenberg was selected, Delta's newly appointed outside  attorney, now Ben Stone, of Munger and Stone, immediately notified the OSHA investigator to call off my AIR21 case because we were handling this in the arbitration process, and he asserted I suffered no harm having been returned to duty, and arbitrator Carol Wittenberg was selected. 

Ben Stone

OSHA agreed to drop the case based upon a few government mandated rules, one of which was I had to be involved in the arbitrator selection process. I notified Rachel of this government requirement and she argued against it. I gave her the manual. She said that ALPA did not have to follow the OSHA mandate, but only the contract. Yes, but I explained that while Delta had to follow OSHA, ALPA had to support me, and this gave ALPA leverage to change arbitrators. She still refused. 

Rachel finally said I had to pick a date from the newly selected dates of June or July 11th. I told her I had no intention of Wittenberg as my arbitrator, and that forcing me into this process at this time would impact safety because I wanted to focus on my plane, having not flown for two years and did not want to deal with this. She ignored all my concerns, and said once again, I had to pick a date.

I then asserted my attorney was busy in June, and my 37th wedding anniversary was July 11th and neither date worked. Rachel selected July 11th for the hearing. 

I subsequently dropped this grievance and proceeded in Federal Court. I prevailed. The Decision and Order can be found here. 

Funny Side Note
Proving you can find humor everywhere

Ira Rosenstein, from Delta's high-priced law firm Morgan Lewis and Bockius, had asked my attorney Lee, at the very beginning if I would be willing to go to mediation instead of court. Lee explained the mediation process to me, and then I sarcastically said, "Oh, that sounds like such a good deal, but only if we can have Carol Witenberg as our Mediator." Joking of course. 

Lee fell silent for a moment, and then said, "Well, that's exactly who they wanted." That wasn't a joke. 

My response was, "Not no. But hell no." 

If a picture speaks a thousand words... 
What does four pictures of the same arbitrator say?

I'm working on the novel, Flight for Justice now. But sadly I do not believe Justice really exists. We have unions that are suppose to help, but when they don't everyone is harmed. When people can be bought there is a problem. When people look the other way, there is a bigger problem. 

If the very people you pay to protect you,
harm you, what can you do?

If it's a union, you could file a DFR
Duty of Fair Representation
But that is another story all it's own...
I could have filed many DFRs along the way, but I did not. Not until the final hour, after ALPA threw me under the bus when I finally brought three grievances to a hearing. Grievances that would have helped all Delta pilots. 

Standby for the ultimate betrayal 
by ALPA. 

Until then, 
Enjoy the Journey

Dr. Karlene Petitt
A350, B777, A330, B747-400, B747-200, B767, B757, B737, B727