June 24, 2011

The pilots of United and Continental want a prompt and fair agreement, and we’re working together toward that goal.

In July 2010, United and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) signed a “Transition and Process” agreement providing protections for pilots of both airlines during the merger and setting forth a timeline to try to reach a joint collective bargaining agreement by September, 2010. The parties have been in negotiations for a joint collective bargaining agreement (“JCBA”) since August 2010.

United stands ready to make swift progress and sign an agreement that is fair to the pilots and fair to the company. Over the past twelve months, United (and Continental) and ALPA have set and maintained an aggressive schedule of bargaining sessions.

For a variety of reasons — and through no fault on anyone’s part — all parties discovered that it wasn’t possible to even prepare comprehensive economic proposals by the September, 2010 date. Both the company and ALPA mutually agreed to postpone filing for mediation in hopes that a continued aggressive schedule of direct negotiations would better enable us to make swift progress.

FIRST COMPREHENSIVE PROPOSALS. On October 27, 2010, the company offered its comprehensive economic proposal for an industry-leading agreement with economics and pay rates comparable to “Delta + $1.” ALPA responded with its first comprehensive economic proposal on December 15, 2010. Economic analyses of the two proposals showed a gap of about $1.3 billion per year. At that point, given the vast disparity between the two proposals, United and ALPA agreed to jointly file for mediation.

“DELTA + $1” IS STILL ON THE TABLE. While United generally doesn’t discuss the details of proposals and bargaining positions in public, pilots should be aware that our position remains that an industry leading contract with economics competitive with the Delta contract can be a reality.

WE WANT TO GET THIS DONE. United senior leadership, including Jeff Smisek, Mike Bonds, Doug McKeen and Fred Abbott, are committed to getting this contract done. We’ve held several high-level meetings with ALPA National representatives, MEC chairs Wendy Morse and Jay Pierce, ALPA negotiating team co-chairs Mark Adams, Dave Owens and Jay Heppner, as well as members of the National Mediation Board. We’ll continue to pursue all paths that lead to a new JCBA.

WHAT HELPED DELTA AND NORTHWEST PILOTS REACH A JOINT CBA SO QUICKLY? The quick negotiation of the Delta JCBA was facilitated by the final JCBA closely mirroring the stand alone Delta contract, especially with respect to work rules. As a result, the JCBA process and economics were not weighed down by Northwest pilot “must haves.”

WE’VE REACHED AGREEMENT ON SEVERAL SECTIONS AND CONTINUE TO MEET REGULARLY. Although no one is satisfied with the pace of negotiations, we’ve reached agreement on seven contract sections and exchanged proposals covering all subject areas. While we are still very far apart on economics, exacerbated by trying to create a JCBA which accommodates United and Continental pilots “must haves,” we continue to make progress in the negotiations.

WE CAN GET THIS DONE RIGHT. Pilot contracts are the most complex and complicated of all airline collective bargaining agreements. Done right, a pilot agreement protects and promotes pilot careers; done wrong, it can devastate a company and destroy pilots’ careers. Thus, the agreement we reach must allow United to be competitive domestically and globally in terms of pilot labor costs and productivity. It must be consistent with United’s need for sustained and sufficient profitability. We can’t, and won’t, write a check that can’t be cashed. And any agreement cannot impede United’s ability to fairly compensate our other co-workers.

WE’VE REACHED AGREEMENTS WITH OTHER LABOR GROUPS. A joint collective bargaining agreement is achievable. It must respect the interests of pilots at both airlines and facilitate a fair and equitable integration of seniority lists. United stands ready and willing to reach agreement on a JCBA, and we see vast areas where the company, ALPA and the pilot group share common interests and can find common ground. We know this is possible, since the company has in fact closed five new labor agreements since 2009, with three of those agreements ratified and executed post-merger. Working together with ALPA, we can and will get this done.

To read the company’s proposal click here*.

* This document is a summary of the terms of the Company’s comprehensive JCBA proposal presented on October 27, 2010. Some of the positions presented here have since been modified significantly in response to proposals by ALPA.


Pilots Negotiations Updates: Archive