United Continental Holdings Inc. and its union said Saturday that workers voted in favor of contracts hiking the pay of some 30,000 baggage handlers, gate agents and other groups, a dramatic reversal from a year ago when the No. 3 U.S. airline mulled outsourcing some of these jobs.
The seven separate deals call for about 30 percent in wage hikes over the next five years and $100 million in lump-sum payments. They also offer protections against outsourcing and a promise to bring more airport work in-house at Los Angeles and United's San Francisco hub, the airline and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) said.
The news marks a vote of confidence by the employees a little more than a year after United said it would outsource 1,150 positions across 16 U.S. airports.
It also marks an achievement of new Chief Executive Oscar Munoz, who took over in September with the aim of building morale after years of strained relations with different work groups.
"We remain laser-focused on getting contracts like these for our flight attendants and technicians," Munoz said in a news release, referring to groups that have lacked a joint contract since United and Continental merged in 2010. "We’ll keep working closely with the unions to make that happen."
United said in the fall that it would not outsource more jobs in baggage handling or customer service until at least 2019.
The airline and the IAM announced they had reached a tentative agreement April 4. Workers voted to approve the accords "overwhelmingly," they said, without providing tallies of the ballots.