The bid by the unions of United Airlines to gain majority control of the company took a new twist Monday with an announcement by the Teamsters Union that it would try to organize about 20,000 non-union employees at United.
It was unclear Monday what impact, if any, the Teamsters could have on the outcome of the bid by the Air Line Pilots Association and the International Association of Machinists to trade $4.5-billion worth of concessions for a 53 percent stake and create the nation's largest employee-owned company, but the Teamsters said that if workers vote for its representation, their contribution would no longer be certain.
And their contribution is considered important. If shareholders approve the deal this summer, the non-unionized workers will be required to trade more than $450-million worth of concessions over about six years in exchange for a 7.7 percent stake in UAL Corp., the parent company of United.
"If the people that we represented here elected not to particpate in the process, then United's management and the other unions would simply have to go back to the table," said Marv Griswold of the Teamsters' airline division.
Griswold added that he believes a vote of United's membership could be taken within 60 days. By then, however, final documentation of the proposed buyout will have been long printed and sent to current shareholders. The deadline for that documentation is March 15. A vote by shareholders is expected by late May or June.
A spokesman for United said: "We have heard that the Teamsters Union has approached our salaried employees and of course they are free to do so."