United Airlines close to new 'bar-raising' contract with pilots

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Maternity leave and quality of life improvements are part of the proposed package

United Airlines and its 14,000-strong pilots' union have a tentative deal in place that would bump up pilots’ pay by more than 14.5% in the next year and a half. The agreement makes United the first major U.S. airline to reach a deal since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and likely establishes a new mark that its competitors will be asked to match.

The agreement has also added an incentive for pilots who are looking for work to knock on United’s door. There are plenty of pilot jobs for the industry to fill, with the shortage forcing some carriers to pull back on their flight schedules. A successful contract negotiation means there is less of a chance of there being canceled flights or fallout in the future.

“This agreement raises the bar for all airline pilots and leads the industry forward,” said Capt. Michael Hamilton, Chair of ALPA’s United pilot group. “Our ability to reach this agreement, and the current success of United Airlines, is driven by front-line United pilots who stayed unified and focused throughout negotiations despite the incredible challenges we faced during the largest disruption in the history of aviation.”

If ratified, the tentative agreement will reportedly generate an additional $1.3 billion of value for United pilots over the course of the two-year agreement.

What else is in the deal?

The two-year agreement also includes several attractive perks, including:

  • Eight weeks of paid maternity leave, a first for the carrier’s pilots and a definite plus for the 7% of United pilots who are women

  • “Enhanced” overtime compensation and “premium” pay

  • “Quality of life improvements” that are designed to give pilots more flexibility in their schedules

Approval by a majority of the voting membership is needed for ratification, and voting closes July 15, 2022.

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