- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2003

CHICAGO, March 13 (UPI) — The Air Line Pilots Association Thursday pushed its contract proposal to United Airlines in a bid to head off the bankrupt carrier's expected request to abrogate all of its labor agreements.

United has imposed a March 17 deadline for reaching agreements to reduce its labor costs. It is expected to file a Section 1113(c) request with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff Monday and the motion likely will be heard April 1.

Late last month, the Association of Flight Attendants submitted a proposal that would trim $1 billion in salary and benefits for flight attendants over six years, about half of what United had sought.

The International Association of Machinists Wednesday said talks with the airline are continuing but interference by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which is seeking a representation election, has made reaching an agreement difficult.

ALPA said its proposal, submitted on Feb. 25, makes "significant changes in pay and productivity" to its current contract. "We all will be required to give quite a bit to preserve our careers," Capt. Paul Whiteford said in a taped message to union members.

Whiteford did not detail specifics but called the pilot's latest proposal "extraordinary, innovative and thorough."

United told Crain's Chicago Business it is "extremely hopeful" new agreements can be reached with its unions by May 1, the deadline by which United must cut costs to meet conditions set by its bankruptcy lenders.

United needs to trim annual labor costs by $2.56 billion. It has asked pilots for $1.12 billion and flight attendants for $314 million annually. It was unclear how much the airline sought from machinists.

In other developments, United announced plans to set up facilities to help furloughed employees to help them find new jobs. United joined with Adecco Job Centers to set up job search and placement operations at its Elk Grove Village headquarters as well as its San Francisco offices.

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