Union says it has a deal with United to prevent nearly 3,000 pilot furloughs

CHICAGO (AP) — The pilots’ union at United Airlines said Wednesday it has reached an agreement with the carrier to prevent the furlough of nearly 3,000 pilots when a federal prohibition on job cuts ends Oct. 1.

The Air Line Pilots Association notified members about the deal, which would need to be ratified by pilots.

Other details about what the union described as an agreement in principle were not disclosed. The union’s top official at United, Todd Insler, said the group would not consider pay-rate reductions or other unacceptable changes in their contract with United.

Airline representatives did not immediately respond for comment.

United said last week that it expected to furlough 16,370 employees in October, including 2,850 pilots, to shrink the airline in line with falling travel demand during the pandemic. United expects to operate only 34% of its normal schedule this month and 40% next month.

Flight attendants will bear the brunt of the cuts, with 6,920 getting furlough notices. Thousands of maintenance workers and management and support staff would also lose their jobs.

In July, United warned 36,000 workers they could be furloughed or laid off. Since then, 7,400 employees took buyouts or early retirement, and up to 20,000 accepted reduced work schedules or took voluntary leaves of absence, reducing the financial pressure on the airline to cut more jobs.

Most union employees in the airline industry whose jobs are cut have rehiring rights –management and administrative staff generally do not. United began the year with 96,000 employees, 84% of whom were represented by unions.

Unions representing employees at United and other U.S. passenger airlines are lobbying Congress for $25 billion more to in payroll relief from taxpayers to avoid layoffs. The airlines got a similar amount in March, which included a ban on involuntary job cuts through Sept. 30.

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