Can United and Its Labor Unions Negotiate to Prevent a Strike?
United Airlines has been planning to cut $9.9 billion in pension accounts which has angered its labor unions. If the cuts go through, the unions said that they will strike.
“Our members are ready to go if they mess with the pension or terminate our contract,” said Carl Finamore of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. “We will shut their airline down. Our members are fed up.”
United Airlines and the two labor unions are supposed to meet this weekend for negotiation in hopes of preventing a strike from occurring. George Raine of the San Francisco Chronicle writes:
The two sides are proceeding on parallel tracks in Chicago. One is in federal Bankruptcy Court where United is making a case to a judge that it cannot survive without deeper cuts in wages and benefits. The other is in hotel meeting rooms where negotiators are wrestling with the same issues.
It is expected that Judge Eugene Wedoff will resume Monday taking testimony that could last into mid-week. He will then decide whether the contracts between United and members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association should be rewritten. United has said that in an era of spiraling costs and tumbling revenue, it needs the new contracts so it can emerge from bankruptcy protection.
If United goes through with the cuts, pressure will be increased on other airlines such as Delta, Northwest, and American to cut costs on their retirement plans.
If the strike happens, United might find itself in a long legal dispute. United says that under the terms of its labor contracts, a strike would not be legal. They would be forced to take legal action.