Two Unions End Strike Against Continental
HOUSTON (AP) _ Continental Airlines will not relieve any of its current mechanics or flight attendants to rehire union members who have given up their 18-month-old strike, a company spokesman said Thursday.
″They will be handled as we’ve handled the return of employees over the last 18 months,″ said airline spokesman Mike Cinelli. ″As positions become available, we will put them back to work.″
Officials of Local 1 of the Union of Flight Attendants and the Internationl Association of Machinists told Houston-based Continental on Wednesday that their strikes were over and they hoped to resolve their differences in court.
″We’re not any closer than when the strike began,″ said Claudia Lampe, a spokeswoman for the flight attendants’ union.The union is not affiliated with a national union, and had said earlier that it had no money left to fight the airline.
The strike was ″no longer effective because it has placed no pressure on the company to come to the bargaining table with us and reach an agreement,″ said Linda Downing, another flight attendants union spokeswoman.
The end to the walkouts left only the Air Line Pilots Association on strike against Continental.
The pilots’ union said in a statement that it intended to remain off the job ″until we can achieve an equitable agreement with the company.″
Striking pilots have been receiving $2,400-a-month strike benefits from their union.
Pilots and flight attendants walked off the job Oct. 1, 1983, a week after Continental filed for protection under federal bankruptcy laws, stopped flying for a few days, then returned to the air as a full-service discount carrier.
Salaries and routes were slashed and working hours increased.
A federal judge eventually upheld the airline’s actions abrogating labor contracts. Although the airline’s route structure has been rebuilt, it still operates under the protection of the federal bankruptcy court.
When attendants and pilots walked out, mechanics already had been on strike about six weeks. The machinists union said Wednesday it could best achieve ″fair and equitable working conditions″ for its members by returning to work.
Continental officials insisted from the beginning of its labor problems that union-represented workers were forsaking the picket lines and returning to their jobs.
More than 50 percent of the 1,300 pilots now working at Continental worked for the airline before the strike, Cinelli said.
Ms. Lampe said about half of the 2,400 flight attendants remained out of work.
Cinelli said the airline had 1,460 machinists union members on the payroll before the walkout and 1,425 mechanics now, but he had no breakdown on how many had abandoned the picket line.