Over 97 Percent Of Those Eligible Cast Ballots In The Election
The pilots of United and Continental, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int'l, have approved a joint collective bargaining agreement with United Continental Holdings, Inc. Of the 10,193 eligible pilots, 97.66 percent participated in the ratification vote. 67 percent approved the agreement. This agreement brings both pilot groups together, working under a single contract. It will begin to be implemented immediately, and will provide gains in compensation, work rules, job protections and retirement and benefits for the pilots.
Union officials said the contract ratification represents a giant step toward finalizing the merger between the two airlines.
"The era of bankruptcy and concessionary contracts is now over," said Capt. Jay Heppner, chairman of the United Master Executive Council and Capt. Jay Pierce, chairman of the Continental Master Executive Council, in a jointly-issued statement. "For too long, the pilots of United and Continental have had to shoulder more than their share of the burden as our respective airlines struggled through the difficult economic times of the past decade. We now stand ready to embark on a fresh start for the pilots and the airline.
"We call on United management to seize this opportunity for a new beginning, and to work with us as equal, respected partners in building United Airlines as the world's preeminent airline."
Captains Heppner and Pierce also thanked the Joint Negotiating Committee for its tireless work in negotiating this agreement for the pilots, as well as the National Mediation Board for their assistance in helping the parties reach this agreement.
Now that the combined contract has been approved, the union leaders said integrating the seniority lists represents the next major hurdle in combining the two pilot groups into a single, 12,000-member strong unit. The seniority integration process is expected to take several months to complete. The process is independent of airline management and involves negotiations between the two pilot groups. Absent an agreement, binding arbitration will be used to settle any remaining differences. The process follows a predefined timeline following contract ratification that was agreed upon by the two pilot groups shortly after the merger was announced.
"The ratification of this agreement is an important step forward for our pilots and the company," said Fred Abbott, United's senior vice president of flight operations. "We look forward to the efficiencies and teamwork we will achieve as our pilots become one group once they complete their seniority integration."
"I want to thank both negotiating teams and the National Mediation Board for their efforts in reaching this agreement that provides both improvements for our pilots and increased competitiveness for United," said Mike Bonds, United's executive vice president of human resources and labor relations. "We are making good progress working together with our remaining employee groups to reach joint agreements to become a fully combined workforce."
The agreement runs through December 2016.