United Airlines has joined the chorus of companies all but guaranteeing wage growth at the same time the Fed continues its fight against inflation. The airline is also a prime example of how, in today’s workforce, workers have most of the leverage.
United’s union is on the verge of solidifying a new labor agreement for its pilots that will no doubt set the standard for the industry. The agreement is being called “the richest ever at a US carrier” by Bloomberg, and it ends more than 4 years of negotiations.
The contract will be valued at about $10 billion through the course of its life, the report says, and will provide pilots – the unsung heroes of Covid who endured forced vaccinations and layoffs, among other hellish work conditions – with a raise of 13.8% to 18.7% upon signing the deal. Salaries could cumulatively rise up to 40.2% over the course of the agreement.
Quality of work-life, job security, work rules, retirement and benefits were also addressed in the new contract, Bloomberg writes:
United and pilot union negotiators will work to complete the final language in the coming weeks. The union’s Master Executive Council will vote to determine if it becomes a tentative agreement that the group will then put up for ratification, according to the statement.
United says that the deal “will deliver a meaningful pay raise and quality of life improvements for our pilots while putting the airline on track to achieve the incredible potential of our United Next strategy.”
And getting the deal signed will offer meaningful relief for the airline’s C-suite. United, like many other airlines, has been constantly under criticism for delays and cancellations, as well as generally chaotic service coming out of the Covid pandemic. Despite the service concerns, Chief Executive Officer Scott Kirby said recently that demand continues to be strong.
As the report notes, United isn’t the only airline seeing rising costs. American Airlines will also be adding $8 billion in additional costs and will see their pilots vote on a contract later this month.
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