United and Continental pilots vote to strike

Washington DC
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United Airlines and Continental Airlines pilots have voted to strike, as two years of talks with the carrier on a new joint pilot contract have failed to reach an agreement.

Almost 94% of the eligible pilots voted for the strike, says the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).

"The strength of this vote clearly indicates the level of frustration our pilots have with management's disinterest in reaching a conclusion to negotiations. Our pilots are tired of management's lack of progress with the merger and the damage to our airline that grows every day," says Jay Pierce, chairman of the ALPA unit that represents Continental's pilots.

Talks between the unions and the airline, mediated by the National Mediation Board (NMB), began on 28 February 2011. Discussions between the two parties had started in May 2010.

The ALPA had sent letters to the NMB in May and June requesting arbitration between the two sides. If the board concludes that mediated talks will not produce a solution, it could release both parties into a process called "self-help". Following a 30-day cooling-off period, the pilots could carry out a strike.