Machinists OK contracts with United Airlines

International_Association_Of_Machinists_and_Aerospace_Workers_logo1Members of the International Association of Machinists voted yesterday to approve new, nationwide collective bargaining agreements with United Airlines covering employees in the airline’s fleet service, passenger-service and storekeeper workgroups.

The agreements cover more than 28,000 workers at United, Continental and subsidiary airlines, including 158 members of Machinists Local 1833 who work at the Minneapolis–St. Paul International Airport. The contracts go into effect Nov. 1 and, because contracts under the Railway Labor Act do not expire, become amendable Jan. 1, 2017.

Union members voted down tentative agreements with United in April. In negotiations since then, workers agreed to concessions related to vacation benefits in exchange for increased pension contributions and wage improvements.

Members will receive payments for those wage increases retroactive to January 2010, when their previous contract with United became amendable, Local 1833 President A.J. Lindell said. For most Local 1833 members, those retroactive payments will be between $6,000 and $10,000.

“That’s nothing to shake a stick at,” he said. “Overall, I think people were satisfied with the agreements.”

The union also succeeded in beating back United’s plan to outsource more customer-service jobs to non-union, low-wage contractors, which drew protest at MSP earlier this year.

The tentative agreement voted down by members in April would have enabled United to resume outsourcing jobs after the contract becomes amendable in 2017. The contracts approved by Machinists this week push that date back to Jan. 15, 2018 – and include a “poison pill” as incentive for the company not to drag out negotiations, Lindell said.

“If there is no agreement, everybody would get a 3 percent raise on that date,” he said.

Above-wing employees – customer-service, ticket and gate agents – in Local 1833 approved their agreement with 90 percent voting “yes.” Local 1833’s below-wing employees – mostly baggage handlers – approved their agreement with 60 percent voting “yes.”

The contracts received “yes” votes from about 70 percent of voting Machinists nationwide.

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