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Accord Provides Seniority Protection or Severance Pay for Strikers : U.S. Judge Orders Pilots to End Walkout at Continental

Associated Press

A federal bankruptcy court judge on Thursday ordered union pilots to end their two-year strike against Continental Airlines.

Judge Glover Roberts issued the order after two weeks of discussions between attorneys for Continental and the Air Line Pilots Assn., airline spokesman Mike Cinelli said.

Terms of Settlement

The settlement provides seniority protection for striking pilots who return to work and a severance pay option for eligible pilots who choose not to return to work for Continental.

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The agreement “resolves all outstanding issues in the labor dispute between Continental and the Air Line Pilots Assn.,” according to a statement released by the union’s Washington office.

“As with all third-party decisions, we didn’t get everything we wanted,” the union’s president, Capt. Henry Duffy, said. “However, the seniority reinstatement, severance pay and retirement fund issues were on the top of our list. The court’s decision provides an orderly system for striking pilots to return to work, so the Continental strike effectively has ended now.”

The pilots’ union struck Continental on Oct. 1, 1983, one week after the airline filed for court protection from creditors under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, slashed wages up to 50% and trimmed its work force by about two-thirds.

The agreement to return to work means that union members will have to accept vastly lower wages than they received before the strike began, according to a union spokesman.

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Two other unions, the Union of Flight Attendants and the International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, also struck the Houston-based carrier but ended their walkouts in April.

1,450 Pilots Involved

Under the settlement, the 1,450 striking pilots will return to work based on seniority as positions become available at Continental. Pilots choosing not to return to Continental will receive severance pay of up to $4,000 for each year of service.

The severance pay will provide pilots with “a financial cushion to make the transition of starting work at another airline or another career,” union spokesman John Mazor said.

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