updated 1/19/2005 3:35:57 PM ET 2005-01-19T20:35:57

United Airlines’ pilots would take an 11.8 percent pay cut and the future of their defined-benefit pensions would be left temporarily unresolved under a revised contract worked out by the two sides.

The tentative contract agreement, released Wednesday by the pilots’ union, was sent to United’s 6,400 pilots for a ratification vote that lasts until Jan. 31.

The pact, announced late Tuesday, calls for hourly pay to be cut by nearly three percentage points less than the 14.7 percent reduction of the previous agreement, which a federal bankruptcy judge dismissed Jan. 7. Pay would be raised 1.5 percent annually from 2006 through the contract’s final year in 2009.

Top-scale pay for a Boeing 747 captain with at least 12 years’ experience would drop to $178.91 per hour, while the captain of a smaller Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 would be cut to a maximum $129.21. Top pay for United first officers would range from $88.25 to $122.20 depending on the plane.

Pilots’ share in a companywide bonus program would be reduced accordingly to provide the company with the same annual savings as the earlier contract — believed to be $185 million a year.

Left unchanged is a commitment to pay the pilots $550 million in convertible notes when the company emerges from bankruptcy, assuming the group’s defined-benefit pension plan is terminated.

But the agreement calls for a 90-day window in which United, a unit of UAL Corp., and the Air Line Pilots Association can pursue possible alternatives to the controversial elimination of pensions.

The company has insisted it needs to scrap traditional pensions and replace them with defined-contribution plans in order to save enough money to be able to operate profitably outside bankruptcy. Pilots had agreed conditionally under the previous contract not to fight the pension move, but the judge said that deal would have been unfair to other unions that are still fighting to retain their pensions.

United is seeking to rewrite all its labor contracts to save costs for the second time in its 25-month bankruptcy. After slashing labor costs by $2.5 billion annually in 2003, the Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based airline says it needs another $725 million in yearly reductions.

Flight attendants and mechanics also are voting on whether to ratify tentative contract agreements reached by their union negotiators this month. The union representing baggage handlers, ramp workers and public-contact workers faces an April 11 deadline for negotiating a pact following a short-term deal put in place this month.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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