United Airlines pilots to get raises of more than 14%, 8 weeks of maternity leave in new contract

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Boeing 777ER United Airlines. Aircraft to Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport.
Massimo Insabato | Mondadori Portfolio | Getty Images

The union representing United Airlines pilots has approved a tentative deal that would give the aviators pay raises of more than 14%, making it the first major U.S. carrier to reach a deal since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and setting the bar for the rest of the industry.

The agreement comes as the airline and others grapple with a shortage of pilots, which some carriers say have forced them to trim flight schedules.

Under the agreement approved Friday, pilots would get more than 14.5% in pay increases within 18 months, according to the Air Line Pilots Association, which represents about 14,000 United pilots. The two-year agreement also includes eight weeks of paid maternity leave, a first for the carrier’s pilots. United said women comprise about 7% of its pilot ranks.

The agreement sets the tone for negotiations between unions and other large U.S. carriers, including Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, as labor groups seek quality-of-life improvements after two years of the pandemic. Some pilots say airlines have created grueling schedules to capitalize on a rebound in travel that has left them fatigued, and some have recently picketed to protest conditions.

Flight attendants and other work groups at major carriers are also in contract talks.

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