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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 21, 2001

United Airlines' workers authorize strike

Associated Press

CHICAGO — United Airlines' ramp workers and customer service employees have voted overwhelmingly to strike if protracted contract talks with the carrier fail to produce a settlement, their union said yesterday.

A strike authorization vote by 30,000 United Airlines' workers puts additional pressure on United to reach an agreement in protracted contract talks with negotiators for ramp workers and customer service employees.

Bloomberg News Service

The authorization vote puts additional pressure on United to reach an agreement with the 30,000 workers, although it does not mean a strike is imminent. Under federal law, a strike is allowed only if federal mediators declare a formal impasse and after a 30-day cooling-off period passes.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 141 conducted the vote over a four-day period this week, and final totals to be released later confirm overwhelming support for a strike, IAM spokesman Frank Larkin said from Washington.

The local represents ramp, customer service, reservations, food service, retail and security workers at the world's second-largest airline.

The National Mediation Board has asked the two sides to return to Washington Thursday in hopes of restarting the stalled 19-month-old negotiations.

United spokesman Joe Hopkins said the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based airline is looking forward to resuming talks now that the strike authorization vote is over.

The union says the sticking points are a pay offer that would keep United workers well under hourly rates of their counterparts at other carriers, as well as issues of job security for cafeteria workers and reservations agents.

The two sides have been in negotiations since December 1999, over a contract that came open for renewal last July.

Also still stalled are contract talks between United and the union representing its 15,000 mechanics.

On the Web:

• United Airlines: www.ual.com
• United ramp workers and customer service employees: www.iam141.org
• Mechanics: www.iam141m.org