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Panel Rules in Favor of United

May 16, 2001

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CHICAGO (AP) _ Flight attendants with United Airlines won’t get a pay raise in their contract after an arbitration panel ruled against it.

United announced Tuesday that the three-person panel voted 2-1 against the increase in base pay last Thursday. A neutral arbitrator and a representative of United voted against the increase; a representative from the Association of Flight Attendants voted for it.

The key issue, according to a spokesman for the flight attendants’ union, was United’s costs for its flight attendants. United estimated its costs were $125 million to $130 million higher than the flight attendants’ estimates, said Jeff Zack.

``The arbitrator went with their numbers,″ Zack said.

The union disputed United’s assertion that its costs were higher than the average among a group of major carriers.

United spokeswoman Whitney Staley said the contract calls for United to give flight attendants an ``industry-leading contract″ and the panel’s vote means that the airline is, in fact, doing that.

Zack said the United flight attendants’ case was hurt by the fact that flight attendants at American are negotiating a two-year contract that is expected to result in a pay raise, and Delta flight attendants also are expected to get a raise. He said it would have helped United if those flight attendants already received those pay increases.

``Every dime every other flight attendant gets elsewhere helps us,″ he said.

The 10-year contract between United and the flight attendants lasts through 2006. As part of the contract, the airline in March paid the flight attendants a $41 million lump sum payment _ which amounts to 5 percent of their base pay.

The panel meets every year to review the pay issue, so flight attendants will have another chance next year.

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