By Susan Carey, The Wall Street Journal
Unionized pilots at United Continental Holdings Inc.’s UAL +1.00% United Airline subsidiary, impatient over the slow pace of contract negotiations aimed at reaching a new joint labor accord covering them and their counterparts at the Continental Airlines union, asked the Air Line Pilots Association to submit a request that United pilots be released from mediated contract negotiations.
If the National Mediation Board, the federal agency that oversees labor relations in the airline industry and is currently mediating the bargaining, decided the talks weren’t fruitful, it could release the pilots into a so-called 30-day “cooling off” period, after which the pilots could strike. The NMB routinely receives such requests but doesn’t honor them when talks seem to be making progress. The NMB didn’t return a phone call on Monday. United, in a statement, said it is “committed to reaching agreements quickly, but those agreements must be fair to the company and fair to employees.”