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Sat, Jan 09, 2010

New United Airlines Pilots Union Head Softens Tactics

But Capt. Wendy Morse Says Higher Wages Still The Main Goal

Captain Wendy Morse, who was elected the head of the United Airlines Pilots Union in October of last year, says she will abandon some of the harsher tactics used by her predecessor in contract negotiations. But she says she will not relent on getting higher wages and benefits for the pilots represented by the union.

Morse, who assumed her leadership role January 1st, said she would be dropping some of the more abrasive tactics used by Capt. Steve Wallach, the outspoken former head of the union. But she said her goals will remain the same. She told The Chicago Tribune that she will continue to pursue higher wages, and seek to undo the outsourcing which occurred when United shifted some of its regional routes to contract partners following the grounding of United's 737 fleet.

Morse was part of a negotiating team that successfully crafted an agreement in 2000 that was one of the richest in the industry. But with airlines worldwide facing severe financial difficulties, industry analysts say Morse has her work cut out for her in the current climate. United pilots lost half their pay and their pension plan when the company declared bankruptcy in 2002. It took three year for the airline to reorganize.

Morse, a 25 year veteran at United, joins the airline's board as a director, and meets with CEO Glen Tilton on Monday. "We will utilize both a carrot and a stick and whatever other tools make sense at the time," Morse wrote in a January 1 letter to pilots. "As you know, a carrot is worthless if the other side views it as a sign of weakness rather than an opportunity to move forward. A stick is just a stick if it is simply wielded."



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