United Airlines, union reach deal to avert layoffs
A United Airlines plane arrives on the newest runway at O'Hare International Airport Oct. 17. (Alex Garcia/ Chicago Tribune / October 23, 2013)
The agreement ensures "no flight attendant is forced out on the street without a paycheck," Veda Shook, AFA International president, said in a statement.
United said in January it would furlough the 688 flight attendants because it had too many United flight attendants but sometimes too few on the Continental side. The two sets of flight attendants belong to the same national union, the Association of Flight Attendants, but work separately under different union contracts as talks continue with United on a joint labor deal.
United and Continental merged in 2010 but have not merged all aspects of the airline yet.
A deal struck in recent days allows United flight attendants to "cross over" to the Continental side yet retain and accrue seniority, pay and vacation, according a statement by the AFA. Details of how United flight attendants would cross over was a sticking point in earlier talks that led to public tension between the AFA and United.
Those who do not participate in voluntary furloughs or the cross-over will retain seniority and are entitled to be recalled, according to the AFA.
"This agreement provides for a reasonable solution that mitigates involuntary furloughs, ensuring that all flight attendants continue to advance their careers at United Airlines," said Greg Davidowitch, AFA president at pre-merger United.
“We are pleased we came to an agreement that will benefit our flight attendants,” said United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy.