Continental’s Flight Attendants Get OnBoard

Continental’s flight attendants have voted on a new 20 month agreement on pay and no furloughs as they prepare to merge into United Airlines.   The agreement gives the flight attendants the highest pay among legacy airline flight attendants.

When this merger began, United flight attendants attempted to co-op Continental flight attendants into their dissatisfaction with United and the Continental crews resisted expressing a desire to have a voice in their destiny.  This new agreement displays, once more, Continental management’s ability to work with their staff.

But can they work with United staff?  This is a bigger challenge than meets the eye.  United unions have no reason to trust Continental management as they have no real experience with them.  They do, however, have a long history with being shoved around by former and current United management.  These conflicts don’t evaporate because a few good guys take over.  It takes time to win that trust.

I think the crew integration going on with United has several more painful chapters ahead before things settle down and all parties do better.  Continental pilots are liable to continue to resist relaxing their current scope agreement (no more than 50 seat jets) and add in the fact that United pilots are generally a more “senior” bunch, I suspect they’ll be playing the spoiler for some time to come.

This merger isn’t as easy or as logical as the Delta/Northwest merger and doesn’t have the benefit of forward thinking union leaders like Lee Moak to help set a tone that lets things get worked out.

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