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United Refuses to Resume Talks With Striking Pilot

Associated Press

United Airlines on Wednesday rejected a call to resume talks with its striking pilots, dashing hopes for a quick settlement in a walkout that has crippled the nation’s largest air carrier for nearly three weeks.

United said it had informed the National Mediation Board that it would not attend a proposed meeting today with mediators and the Air Line Pilots Assn. in Washington.

Representatives of the 5,000 striking pilots had agreed to the meeting. The board’s call on Tuesday to resume talks was a request, not an order.

United said in a mailgram to the board that its position on a back-to-work agreement had not changed. The company said that it “will not bargain” with the pilots’ union on the remaining sticking point in the strike, the status of three employee groups honoring picket lines.

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United said that those groups--flight attendants, management pilots and 500 newly trained United pilots who have not started working--are out of the pilot union’s jurisdiction. The company does not consider those 500 pilots United employees.

Steve Crews, a pilots’ spokesman, said that the flight attendants’ union, the Assn. of Flight Attendants, is bargaining for that group but that “our position is simply that we won’t have a back-to-work agreement until the flight attendants are taken care of.”

Crews, referring to the 500 newly hired pilots, said that “our position on them is the same as with the flight attendants.”

Attempts to revive talks were made almost two weeks after negotiations broke down May 25 over the back-to-work agreement. Tentative settlement had been reached on the main economic issue, a two-tier salary wage for veteran and newly hired pilots.

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