CHICAGO — After years of divisive negotiations between United Airlines and its pilots, union members on Saturday ratified a new labor agreement, shedding a bankruptcy-era contract for pilots and marking an important step toward fully integrating United and Continental airlines, which officially merged in 2010.
The Air Line Pilots Assn., which over the last couple of years has staged pickets about its lack of a contract and had taken a preliminary strike vote, said 67% of its 10,000 members voted over the last several weeks to ratify the deal, with nearly 98% casting votes. Voting closed Saturday morning.
The four-year contract will go into effect immediately. It provides gains in pay, job protections, retirement and benefits compensation and work rules.
"The era of bankruptcy and concessionary contracts is now over," union leaders said in a 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."