United Airlines mechanics reject contract offer, vote to strike

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 19: United Airlines jets sit at gates at O'Hare International Airport on September 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, 67 million passengers passed through O'Hare, another 20 million passed through Chicago's Midway Airport, and the two airports combined moved more than 1.4 million tons of air cargo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL – SEPTEMBER 19: United Airlines jets sit at gates at O’Hare International Airport on September 19, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. In 2013, 67 million passengers passed through O’Hare, another 20 million passed through Chicago’s Midway Airport, and the two airports combined moved more than 1.4 million tons of air cargo. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Mechanics at United Airlines voted to reject the company’s contract offer on Tuesday and authorize a strike.

The move is a setback for the Chicago-based United, as it waits for the return of its ailing CEO.

More than 93 percent opposed the contract the airline put proposed in October that would cover 9,000 mechanics in the bargaining unit, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said in a press release. More than 7,800 members voted, the union said.

“At a time when United Airlines is incredibly profitable, it is clear that mechanics deserve a better offer from the company,” Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, said in a statement.

Oscar Munoz, the airline’s president and CEO, is recovering from a heart transplant. He suffered a heart attack six weeks after he took over the company.

He said in a statement that “although we are disappointed by this outcome, we are eager to get right back to the table.”

Munoz is expected to return to the company at the end of the first quarter, added”I will personally meet with our labor leaders to make sure we reach an agreement that will work for our technicians.”

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Chicago Tribune reporting