Continental workers ratify bargaining agreement

HOUSTON -- The unions representing Continental Airlines pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and simulator engineers ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the airline. The flight attendants union, however, did not approve the agreement.

The airline said the unions that ratified the agreement have decided to go forward and implement their contracts without the flight attendants.

Continental said it would implement a series of previously announced pay and benefit reductions at the beginning of April for its airport, cargo, reservations, food services, management and clerical employees.

Continental, through the agreement, expects to realize at least $418 million in annual pay and benefit savings.

This contract strengthens workers positions at Continental Airlines, said Don Treichler, Teamsters Airline Division Director, on behalf of the carriers aviation maintenance technicians and related workers. This is a difficult time for airlines, but we fought hard to include job protections -- including a no-furlough clause -- that these skilled, hardworking Teamsters deserve.

I recognize that these pay and benefit reductions are painful, and I appreciate that our pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and simulator engineers made the decision to support their co-workers and our airline, said Larry Kellner, Continentals chairman and CEO. While I am disappointed that the flight attendants failed to ratify their agreement, I believe they recognize our need for cost reductions and want to support our co-workers, but were influenced by other factors.

Nevertheless, the airline indicated that it intends to press for an agreement with the flight attendants. It called the flight attendants current levels of pay and benefits not sustainable.

Continental said it would reengage in discussions with the flight attendants, but raised the ante noting it intended to negotiate for larger pay and benefit reductions in the next go-round.

The airline had previously warned that without a new collective bargaining agreement, it would have had to take several cost cutting measures including everything from laying off employees to pay cuts to canceling pending orders for new aircraft.

To contact the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to Michael Milligan at [email protected].

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