[NEW YORK] United Airlines will outsource about 1,150 positions at 16 airports across the country, but reached tentative agreements with its union to keep another 800 jobs in-house that also had been under scrutiny, a company spokesman said on Friday.
The Chicago-based carrier began a review of jobs at 28 US airports in January, working toward a goal from 2013 to reduce costs by US$2 billion annually. The airline said it needed to curtail its spending to stay in line with its less-unionized competitors.
After weeks of negotiation with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, United agreed to keep the jobs of ramp workers and customer service employees at six of these airports in exchange for "contract modifications," the union said Thursday in a post on its website.
Before taking effect, the agreement must be approved by a vote of the affected workers, who are located in or near Tulsa; San Antonio; Indianapolis; San Jose, California; Reno, Nevada; and Billings, Montana, the union said.
Ramp workers will be outsourced at another six airports, while customer service employees there will retain their jobs, also pending a vote. These airports are in or near Atlanta; Sacramento; St. Louis; Kansas City; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Fort Myers, Florida. "It is truly unfortunate that the gap between vendors proposals and United's contractual costs could not be bridged in all stations," union official Rich Delaney said in the website post.
It was not immediately clear how much money United would save, or how many workers would leave the company.
The airline said last month that it would offer affected employees the option of transferring to jobs at other airports, based on seniority. Furloughs or layoffs could result if workers decline the offers. "We were pleased to reach a tentative agreement to keep a substantial portion of this work in-house," company spokesman Luke Punzenberger said.
"Where it makes financial sense, we prefer to have United employees do the work."
Concessions, if any, made by the union for workers who will keep their jobs were not immediately clear. The date of the voting will be determined shortly, the union said.