Union Effusive About The Pact, Airline Guarded
The pilots of United and Continental Airlines, after more than two years of negotiating with the company for a joint collective bargaining agreement, and with the assistance of the National Mediation Board (NMB), have reached an agreement-in-principle (AIP) with United Continental Holdings, Inc., on major economic issues. While some details of an agreement still remain open, the pilots are confident a final AIP can be worked out in the coming days.
“After working under a bankruptcy contract for nearly 10 years, the substantial contributions of the pilots in helping United Airlines survive its darkest economic days and make the United/Continental merger possible will, at last, be respected and rewarded,” said Captain Jay Heppner, chairman of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association. “This pilot group has endured more than its share of sacrifices since 9/11. We have flown through the airline’s bankruptcy, taking drastic pay cuts and losing our pensions. We’ve witnessed the loss of thousands of United pilot jobs through outsourcing and off-shoring.
“This is a great win for the pilots, a great win for the American people, a great win for those who put safety first in America, and a great win for U.S. jobs. Once today’s agreements are finalized and approved by our membership, we look forward to getting to work under this new agreement and doing what we do best, which is providing United customers with a safe and comfortable traveling experience.
“We stand at the threshold of a new day at United Airlines and we are ready to join forces with our Continental brethren to help build the new United into the world’s preeminent airline.”
“After many years of enduring the hardships of concessionary and bankruptcy-era contracts, we are pleased to have finally reached an agreement that will allow our pilots and their families to see gains in compensation, work rules, job protections, and retirement and benefits,” said Captain Jay Pierce, chairman of the ALPA unit representing Continental pilots. “Our pilots must be recognized for the hundreds of millions of dollars in annual givebacks that ultimately allowed our airline to remain competitive, prosper and avoid the economic turmoil that befell others in the industry. Further, they deserve to be recognized for their role in building the success of the company and for the role they will play in the success of the merger of equals with United. We are pleased to be able to move forward with true progress towards completion of the merger of our airlines. Once there is pilot approval of this contract, the operations of the two airlines can finally begin to be integrated for
the ultimate benefit of our passengers, pilots and United employees, and shareholders. We can begin to deliver on the promise of the world’s largest and best airline.”
In a statement posted on its website, United Continental Holdings said only that the agreement is subject to definitive documentation, approvals by the ALPA master executive councils of each subsidiary, and ratification by the company's pilots. "This agreement follows intense negotiations with our pilot group and is an important step forward for our company. I want to thank both negotiating teams for their efforts in reaching this agreement," said Fred Abbott, senior vice president of flight operations for United.
"The National Mediation Board played a crucial role in our negotiations, and I want to recognize NMB member Linda Puchala for her personal involvement and thank Senior Mediator Patricia Sims for her professional and effective mediation support," said Mike Bonds, executive vice president of human resources and labor relations at United.
Negotiations for the JCBA have been under the supervision of the National Mediation Board (NMB). Terms of the agreement must now be converted into a tentative agreement (TA). Until that process is complete, details of the TA will not be released. The TA will be presented independently to ALPA’s governing bodies for each of the Continental and United pilot groups for consideration. If approved, it will be sent to the pilots of both carriers for a combined ratification vote.