United shifting jobs at 12 airports to cut costs

DALLAS (AP) — United Airlines is outsourcing more than
600 jobs at 12 airports around the country to cut costs while adding
jobs at other airports.
The airline said Monday that it notified
employees of the decision, which had been expected since May. They
include ticket and gate agents and baggage handlers at airports served
mostly by smaller United Express flights.
"This is a difficult decision, but we need to ensure that our costs are competitive," said
United spokeswoman Christen David.
The
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said that
it negotiated seniority protection for many of the workers if they
relocate, and that job losses will be limited.
Still, union
spokesman James Carlson called the outsourcing a "race to the bottom.
How can you compete with vendors paying $12 an hour?" He said United’s
top pay for the work is about $24 an hour.
United will hire other
companies to handle the work at airports in Albuquerque, New Mexico;
Buffalo, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North
Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit; El Paso, Texas;
Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Wichita, Kansas; Pensacola, Florida; and Salt
Lake City.
Under the union contract, the airline will take back
about 400 jobs that had been outsourced at Denver, Honolulu, Phoenix,
and Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia.
Chicago-based
United Continental Holdings Inc. lost $609 million in the first quarter
while rivals Delta and American made money. It employs about 87,000
workers overall, according to FactSet.