United Continental Merger Q&A
- Q: I understand that Continentals pay scale for Public contact employees, specifically Reservations Sales and Service Representatives, is around $3.00 less per hour than what United offers. How will this play out if the merger is pushed through? And please make sure our hard earned benefits and job security are not diminished by Glenn Tilton and his grandiose legacy ambitions.A:
Despite Continental's wage and benefit levels we are continuing to negotiate improvements in our current United Agreements, including PCE. At a time in the future when both airlines are operationally combined and issues of representation are settled, a new replacement contract covering all Members will be negotiated.The full combination of the two carriers is not expected to happen before the first half of 2012.
- Q: For those of us that are currently on furlough waiting to be recalled, how will this merger affect us? Will we still be able to be recalled?
You have recall rights to the position you were furloughed from until such time you are offered return to work. The provisions of our contract covering the seniority protection of furloughed Members is not affected by proposed mergers.
- Q: What would happen to the furloughed employees at United? In our contract it states we have recall rights for life, and in the merger, will we displace Continental employees according to what our seniority can hold.
A: Your recall rights are maintained until you are offered a return to work to the position from which you were furloughed. The integration of seniority between United and Continental employees is a subject of future negotiations, once the two airlines operationally combine. How seniority is used in cases of furlough is also subject to negotiation. Those talks have not begun.
- Q: The pass travel policy for the two carriers are worlds apart, as it relates to active and retiree boarding priority. How will this be treated, and will the Union have any input as it is not contractual?
A: Our contracts state that the company Travel Policy will not be substantially changed or discontinued without first discussing it with the Union. The IAM, along with representatives from all other employee groups, participates in the Employee Travel Committee that routinely meets to discuss changes and improvement in the pass policy. That forum will be used to discuss employee travel in the future.
- Q: What Unions represent Continental Ramp and Continental PCE? When does seniority integration begin? And finally, how will current contract negotiations affect active and furloughed employees?
A: At present, Continental PCE employees are not represented by any organization. Ramp Service employees at Continental recently voted to be represented by the Teamsters (IBT). Our current negotiations with United over wages and working conditions for United employees represented by the IAM will continue. There have been no discussions at this point with either Company regarding seniority integration; that is an issue that will be addressed when other issues, such as governmental approval of the merger, representational elections, and operational integration has occurred.
Below are the answers to some initial questions District 141 Members may have. The Union is conferring with management of both United and Continental to ascertain all the details, but at this point there were more questions than answers.
- Q: What does today’s announcement mean for employees?
A: The announcement will have no direct, immediate effect on employees of either carrier. There is no way to tell at this time if a merger will even be concluded.
- Q: What has to happen for the merger to be concluded?
A: The merger must receive approval from the shareholders of each company, as well as approval from the Department of Justice.
- Q: How will this affect our contract negotiations?
A: While the prospect of a merger will be on the minds of your negotiators when they return to the bargaining table, there is no way to tell if a merger will actually be approved. Your IAM negotiators’ goal remains to continue negotiating contracts for our United members as soon as possible. However, the attorneys, economists and other professionals on the IAM’s Transportation Merger Team who have been evaluating a United-Continental merger since 2006 will assist your negotiators on issues relating to or potentially impacted by a merger.
- Q: Do we have merger protection in our contract?
A: Yes. Each IAM-UAL contract contains language that preserves our collective bargaining agreements and requires fair and equitable integration of seniority.
- Q: If this merger occurs, will we still be represented by the IAM?
Railway Labor Act regulations and National Mediation Board (NMB) procedures will determine the certified collective bargaining representative for each classification in a combined United/Continental workforce. The NMB may order an election for some classifications to determine the certified representative. Nothing would be resolved until the NMB concludes that both companies are operating as a single entity for representation purposes, and there is no timetable for that to happen.
- Q: What happens to our contracts?
A: Contracts will remain in full force and effect until after representation issues are resolved.
- Q: What will happen to our pensions?
A: Guaranteeing our members’ retirement security is a major concern for the Machinists Union, and the IAM will fight to protect the pensions of our members at both carriers in any merger scenario.
United’s contributions into the IAM National Pension Plan and the benefits our members are earning will continue as long as the IAM continue as your collective bargaining representative and our collective bargaining agreements remain intact.
Continental’s company-sponsored pension plans are $1.4 billion underfunded. In contrast, the IAM National Pension Plan is currently funded at 96%.
The IAM fought hard in bankruptcy to provide our members with a pension plan after the bankruptcy court allowed United to walk away from its obligations. We won’t allow your pensions to become a casualty of a merger.
- Q: How will the IAM integrate seniority?
A: The IAM’s longstanding official policy is to integrate seniority by the date of hire into the classification, regardless of which airline or union an employee comes from.