United flight attendants, pilots ratify new contract

Friday, January 28th 2005, 10:32 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ United Airlines' flight attendants and pilots on Monday ratified new contracts that reduce wages and benefits, key steps in the carrier's bid to cut costs in an effort to emerge from a 26-month bankruptcy.

The airline still faces the threat of a strike from its mechanics union, which on Friday rejected a tentative deal that included a 5 percent wage reduction and benefit cuts. Mechanics voted to strike if United succeeds in its effort to persuade a bankruptcy judge to impose the cuts.

The pilots' contract ratified Monday includes an 11.8 percent pay cut, which would save the airline $180 million in annual costs. Flight attendants agreed to have their wages reduced 9.5 percent, which United has said would save the company $138 million a year.

A federal bankruptcy judge was expected to approve both contracts Monday afternoon.

United, a unit of Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based UAL Corp., is trying to rework labor contracts with each of its six unions in a bid to save an additional $725 million in annual operating expenses, which the carrier says is critical to its planned exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The unions already agreed to a combined $2.5 billion in concessions two years ago.