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Continental Pilots Sign Working Accord

Continental Airlines today
signed a “Partnership Accord” with its pilots union, the Air Line Pilots
Association, Int’l (ALPA), to codify key aspects of their new approach to
labor/management relations.
During what are arguably the most challenging economic and financial
circumstances in aviation history, major airlines are being forced to
undertake drastic measures to remain competitive, some even attempting to
“reinvent” themselves. In such an environment, Continental and its pilots
have determined that the old ways of confrontational labor relations are
detrimental to both sides’ interests.

More than a year ago, Continental Airlines and the Continental Master
Executive Council of ALPA (CAL ALPA) began to develop a relationship based
on providing each other with accurate, factual information and considering
each other’s input regarding operational and other issues. This evolving
process has been beneficial to both parties in resolving a number of
important issues, most recently resulting in an agreement to expedite the
recall of 310 furloughed Continental pilots without imposing burdensome
costs on the carrier.

The agreement signed today formalizes this process and commits Continental
and CAL ALPA to a partnership relationship “based on mutual respect and
trust.” It also assures that each party will receive “a fair share of the
financial and economic rewards.”

“This agreement further reflects Continental’s policy of open, honest and
direct communication with all employees,” said Gordon Bethune,
Continental’s chairman and CEO. “Additionally, treating each other with
dignity and respect has become a cornerstone of our success. Working
together works for us and this agreement will ensure that everybody wins

Duane Woerth, ALPA president, lauded the effort by Continental management
and pilots union leadership, saying, “You tried a new path—based on
cooperation, trust and mutual respect—and that’s bearing fruit for your


“This could be a model for the industry,” he added. “Certainly ALPA
believes that pilots and management must work together to meet the
challenges we face.”

Capt. Jay Panarello, chairman of the Continental ALPA Master Executive
Council, reviewed the steps that led to today’s signing. He said that soon
after he took office in August 2003, a roundtable meeting of company and
union leaders was held. There, he said, “We committed to address
legitimate concerns based on fact, not propaganda, and to temper our

“Results were immediate,” he observed. “We nipped a number of problems in
the bud before they got out of hand.” The concept of partnership took hold
and today’s signing ensures “that this better way of doing business”

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), is the bargaining agent for
the 4,000 pilots of Continental Airlines. ALPA is the world’s oldest and
largest pilot union, representing 64,000 air line pilots at 43 airlines in
the U.S. and Canada.