United And Union Reach Agreement, Averting Possible Strike
CHICAGO (AP) _ United Airlines’ machinists reached a tentative contract agreement with the airline, avoiding a crippling holiday strike.
Negotiators for the airline’s largest union agreed to keep 27,000 members on the job today, said Ken Pheide, assistant general chairman of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
″Our negotiating committee is going to be recommending a yes vote,″ Pheide said.
United said in a statement that both sides agreed not to release details of the tentative pact pending a vote by union members. Neither side would say when the vote would occur.
The union could have voted to strike immediately if no agreement was reached by 11:01 p.m. Thursday, the end of a 30-day cooling-off period. A spokeswoman at the union’s strike hotline said the tentative agreement was reached about 15 minutes later.
United and the union had been negotiating virtually non-stop since Monday. The union, representing mechanics and other blue-collar works, has been without a contract since 1989.
United, battling with American Airlines for supremacy as the nation’s largest air carrier, could have been hit hard by a strike during the busy holiday travel season.
United spokesman Tony Molinero would not say earlier Thursday if the airline had a contigency plan in case of a strike.
Al Carmona, secretary-treasurer of the union’s District 141, said Wednesday that negotiators had agreed on several minor issues. But primary issues such as wages and working hours had gone unresolved.
UAL Corp., the airline’s parent company, signed new contracts this year with unions representing pilots and flight attendants.