Date: Monday, October 2, 2023
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Pilots at United Airlines approved a new contract that includes pay raises of as much as 40% over the course of its four-year term.
The Air Line Pilots Association union said the deal adds $10.2 billion in wage increases, benefits and other improvements, and was approved by 82% of pilots voting.
Pilot unions have been able to secure big gains as they negotiated new contracts as airlines confronted a rapid rebound in travel demand and a shortfall of aviators. Airlines have been racing to hire and train more pilots to replace those who retired early during the Covid-19 pandemic and prepare for a wave of coming retirements.
Workers are seeking to flex power in other industries, propelled by companies’ need for workers and refreshed union leadership. On Friday, the United Auto Workers union expanded a two-week strike to two additional plants, after earlier this week Hollywood writers reached a tentative deal with studios and streamers after a nearly five-month strike.
American Airlines and Delta Air Lines pilots have also struck deals for lucrative new contracts this year, including big wage increases and improvements pilots had sought for retirement contributions, scheduling, and other measures. United’s new contract is also set to trigger provisions in the new contracts that require airlines to match or exceed one another’s pay.
The agreements leave Southwest Airlines as the last of the biggest four airlines without a new pilot contract. Several airlines including United are still negotiating with flight attendants.
United and its pilots union also hope that changes to work rules will encourage more pilots to seek out captain positions. The union has said many experienced co-pilots had been avoiding the captain’s seat, despite the higher pay, to avoid giving up control over their schedules.