United/Continental Pilots Get Authority To Call Strike Vote

Even though United Airlines and Continental have merged just about everything else, the pilots remain represented by two different groups at the Air Line Pilots Association. Even so, all pilots for the merged carriers received union approval to ask members to vote on a strike if negotiations with management break down.

For two years, the pilots have been trying to negotiate improvements to contracts, drawn in the shadow of 9/11, that cut pay by around 40% as a measure to help the carriers work their way out of bankruptcy.

Last week, pilots asked the National Mediation Board to release the union from mediated negotiations that have been going on since Feb. 2011. United Airlines says it still hopes these negotiations will bring resolution to the matter sans strike, but a rep for the ALPA group that represents Continental pilots tells the Chicago Tribune he doesn’t have such a sunny outlook:

There has been more than ample time to reach agreement on a new contract… While a strike is never the pilots’ preference for the path to reaching agreement, we are more than willing to use every tool at our disposal, including exercising our ultimate leverage and legally withholding our services. … With the agonizingly slow pace of negotiations, management has left us with little option.

Both the approval to call a strike vote and the request to be released from the mediated negotiations are preliminary steps toward a possible strike. No deadline has been given by the pilots for what is now the nation’s largest airline.

United, Continental pilots cleared to call a strike vote [Chicago Tribune]

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  1. Cat says:

    I wish they would go on strike for better conditions for passengers.

  2. speaky2k says:

    I know when they will strike… Sometime between May 31st & June 3rd. I have a round trip flight scheduled for then on United for a trip that is just outside my comfortable driving radius. Knowing my luck I will either not be able to make it to my destination or home. If I can’t make it home on United, I will rent a car & drive since it will be cheaper than a new one-way ticket last minute. If I can’t make it there, I’m not sure if I will drive (and suffer) or get a last minute round trip ticket… It will depend on the prices.

    • LetMeGetTheManager says:

      No, it will be between June 12-17 when I need to use them for my honeymoon flights. THAT is when it will be.

      • speaky2k says:

        Well, if it starts on my trip, it may still be going on for at least part of your trip.

      • Marine2531 says:

        No no no…June 26th – July 4th will be when they strike because that’s my honeymoon trip. Son of a…

  3. aerodawg says:

    Guaranteed they’re going to strike right around 12 July when my wife and I are scheduled to depart for Europe for 15 days.

  4. MeowMaximus says:

    I hope they strike, and I hope the airlines fired them all.

  5. gman863 says:

    The threat of a strike couldn’t have come at a worse time for United’s long-term profitability, or a better time for lower international airfares.

    Houston has two airports: IAH (Bush Airport, a.k.a. “The Big Airport”) which is dominated by United/Continental and HOU (Hobby Airport) that is dominated by Southwest.

    Currently, Sothwest only offers domestic service. They currently have a proposal in front of the Houston City Council to build a huge international terminal at Hobby and start offering serice to Latin America.

    Needless to say, United is crying foul, claiming this will cost thousands of jobs at IAH (never mind that it will add as many or more jobs at Hobby).

    It appears the city council is leaning towards approving the Southwest plan as it is. The threat by United pilots to hold air service to Latin America by the balls will make it game, set, match for Southwest.