Courtesy, United Airlines

Leaders of the 12,000 ALPA-represented pilots at United Continental Holdings (UCH) have called for a strike vote after failing to reach a contract agreement through two years of post-merger negotiations.

The parties began talks in May 2010 when United Airlines and Continental Airlines announced their merger plans. They jointly requested mediation by the National Mediation Board (NMB) in December 2010, which began Feb. 28, 2011.

"There has been more than ample time to reach agreement on a new contract,” ALPA chairman-Continental pilots Jay Pierce said. “While a strike is never the pilots' preference for the path to reaching agreement, we are more than willing to use every tool at our disposal … with the agonizingly slow pace of negotiations, management has left us with little option.”

A date for the vote has not been set.

ALPA said the call for a vote follows a May 11, 2012 letter to the NMB requesting that it “further assist the parties to bring about an agreement by proffering arbitration, and if not accepted by both parties, issuing a release under Section 5, First of the Act.”

If the NMB grants the parties “self help,” the pilots will be able to strike following a 30-day period.

The two carriers merged in October 2010 (ATW Daily News, Oct. 1, 2010).