There are a lot of issues that the labor groups at UAL are stewing over concerning this acquisition. Financially, the pilots and mechanics feel that they were sold out because of the concessions they gave up on their last contracts which enabled UAL to stockpile cash and increase earnings over the life of the ESOP. Now the money they gave back to UAL is going to be used to buy a carrier that will, by Stephen Wolf's own admission, be bankrupt in a few years if someone doesn't buy them. That means that all of USAir's pilots and mechanics will be integrated into UAL's seniority lists, and, in the case of the pilots at least, most will come out very senior and displace a lot of UAL employees. Pretty nice payback for giving the company a break with a concessionary contract, wouldn't you say? Many at UAL feel that they don't need to buy USAir to attain substantial growth and that the 4+ billion could be better used to grow the company from within and thus avoid an enormous amount of merger costs (one example: all 6,000 USAir pilots will have to be retrained on United's operating procedures before the two companies can become fully integrated) and subsequent internal strife (can you imagine going to work every day and seeing a guy sitting next to you that you'd like to kill because he displaced you by a few thousand seniority numbers?) Are some of these arguments valid? I think so. Are these issues emotionally charged? You bet. The pilots and mechanics contributed greatly (fully?) to this summer's dismal performance at UAL and that was over a contract that will last, what? four years? It will take over 20 years for the last USAir pilot and longer for the last USAir mechanic to retire from United. Labor troubles? I dare say we have yet to even see the tip of this iceberg.
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