Friday, December 25, 2015

United pilots’ union leadership votes to approve 2-year contract extension

United Airlines is one step closer to placing an order for new small narrowbody aircraft, after a key union committee voted on Dec. 22 to approve a proposed two-year contract extension.

United’s Master Executive Council (MEC) voted 13-7 to approve the deal, a source told ATW’s sister publication Aviation Daily. All pilots will begin voting on it in January, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said. The spokesman said the MEC vote was “just the latest step in the process,” calling the vote by the full pilot group, “the most important step.” A United spokeswoman declined to comment.
Both sides have a great deal to gain in the proposal, which the union and airline reached in late November, after fewer than 30 days spent negotiating. United would get labor peace much earlier than many expected. The current labor deal is not amendable until Jan. 1, 2017—and before United asked the union to meet for early discussions, the sides were not even scheduled to start talking again until at least May 2016.
New Aircraft
Pilots, meanwhile, would get new aircraft to fly. When United first broached the idea of an early extension in an Oct. 2 letter, the airline promised pilots that any deal “will also include a firm order of [new small narrowbodies] on the United mainline property flown by United pilots.”
Under United’s definition, small narrowbodies denote aircraft with about 100 seats—smaller than the Airbus A319s and Boeing 737-700s the airline already flies. The Embraer 190 and Bombardier CS100 are believed to be strong contenders. United has not said how many aircraft it would order, or whether they would be new or used.
Pilots would also see pay increases and more-favorable work rules under the deal. In a summary of the deal, ALPA estimated pilots would receive more than $1.1 billion in pay increases in 2016, 2017 and 2018 over what they would get under their current agreement.
The deal also includes a “snap up” that would provide more pay, “if the average annual percentage increase of a new Delta agreement exceeds… .” United’s deal. For the “snap up” to kick in, Delta must have a deal by Jan. 1, 2018, the summary shows.
The summary gave the example of a 12-year captain on the Boeing 747, 777, 787 and 767-400.
Under the current deal, that captain would earn $278.36 per hour in 2017. With the new deal, the captain would make $314.56 in 2017, and $320.86 in 2018.
As part of the negotiations, the sides agreed to talk about only a handful of issues, leaving others as they are in the current contract. In an October note to pilots, Jay Heppner, the chairman of United’s MEC, called the decision to streamline negotiations a “paradigm shift.”
“In the past, the way we’ve traditionally negotiated has taken years,” he said. “The question today distills down to: Do we fix a few items in the current contract with a short extension, or do we go about fixing lots of items sometime in the future? It is up to the MEC to make that decision on behalf of the pilots they represent.”
(Brian Sumers - ATWOnline News)

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