United Airlines Flight-Attendant Top Pay to Rise as Much as 31%

  • Deal reached last week goes to 25,000 members for ratification
  • Proposal would unify three groups for first time since merger

Top pay rates for United Airlines flight attendants would rise as much as 31 percent, a union spokeswoman said, under a proposal to bring the 25,000 members under a single labor contract for the first time.

The maximum pay for veterans with at least 13 years of experience would be set at $62 an hour, the Association of Flight Attendants said in a statement posted at Ourcontract.org Tuesday. That figure would rise to $67.11 by the end of the contract’s five-year term.

The agreement with United Continental Holdings Inc. would raise pay by double-digit percentages at all seniority levels and by 18 percent to 31 percent at the top, depending on extra compensation such as for working on international flights, union spokeswoman Taylor Garland said in an interview Wednesday. The deal also would provide flight attendants with profit sharing.

A unified labor contract with flight attendants would address one of the most glaring failures since the 2010 merger of United’s parent company with Continental Airlines. Attendants from the two airlines had separate contracts and couldn’t work on the same aircraft, which created problems in scheduling flight crews. Flight attendants from a United camp, a Continental contingent and a unit for Continental Micronesia workers also have clashed with management and other employee groups.

Leadership Approval

The union’s leadership on Tuesday approved the proposal, which was reached last week between its negotiating committee and the airline, and said it would send the contract to members for ratification. Details on the deadline for balloting weren’t available.

For more on United’s plan to boost revenue, click here.

United is pleased with the union’s decision, said airline spokeswoman Megan McCarthy. “We want our flight attendants to have a joint contract,” she said. The carrier declined to say how much its costs would rise if the agreement is ratified.

The proposed contract marks another step forward for Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz and his efforts to smooth relations with United’s workforce. United’s pilots signed a two-year contract extension in January, and the carrier’s dispatchers approved a labor deal in March. The carrier has yet to come to terms with its roughly 8,900 mechanics.

Munoz must juggle higher labor costs approved under the new contracts with his plan to improve United’s profit margin. He recently announced a plan to find $3.1 billion in savings and extra revenue by 2018.

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