United pilots go to US Airways playbook, break out the safety card

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Safety becomes the latest weapon in union fight against United – Loren Steffy, Houston Chronicle

In the airline industry, it’s the equivalent of the nuclear option.

I’ve covered a lot of airline contract talks and even strikes over the years, and while they can be acrimonious and messy, one issue was always off-limits: safety.

Management never publicly threatened that union demands could compromise it, and unions never implied that management was willing to skimp on it to save money.

Until now.

Until now?

Apparently, Steffy missed the full page ad that US Airways pilots took out this summer alleging that management practices were endangering passenger safety (also see the US Airways pilots’ website).

For someone who touts his expertise in covering such matters, it’s even more surprising Steffy has missed the ongoing labor acrimony at US Airways, since it’s a possible sign of things to come at United/Continental if Jeff Smisek can’t prove more successful in combining his labor force than US Airways has been at combining the legacy US and America West pilots.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX