United clinches long-sought deal with flight attendants union

United Continental Holdings Inc (UAL.N) has reached a deal for the first labor contract in its history that covers all flight attendants at the company, the union said on Friday, a breakthrough after workers’ protests and years of talks.

The deal with union negotiators requires the approval of leaders of United’s unit of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA before it formally becomes a “tentative agreement.” It will then go to more than 20,000 in-flight crew members for a final vote.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Ratification would mark a victory for new Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz, who has sought new contracts and harmony with workers for the No. 3 U.S. airline by passenger traffic.

A contract also would be an important step toward integrating United and Continental and reducing flight cancellations.

Since the airlines merged in 2010, their crews continue to staff separate flights. That means when a flight is at risk of being canceled because it is short-staffed, United cannot bring in reserve employees from pre-merger Continental if it is on a pre-merger United aircraft.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Lisa Von Ahn)

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