United Airlines pilots are to get pay increases of more than 14 percent over the next 18 months, as well as paid maternity leave under a new contract signed with the firm.

The move highlights aviators’ bargaining power in a sector that is increasingly short-staffed sector.

The two-year agreement, which was accepted by union executives on Friday, June 24, will now be given to members for approval, with pilots having until July 15 to vote on it.

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 The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) said the deal includes more than 14.5 percent cumulative pay increases as well as increases over time and training compensation.

The union represents over 14,000 pilots at the Chicago-based carrier. 

The contract now provides eight weeks of paid maternity leave for the first time.

United is the first major US airline to secure a new contract deal with its pilots and it is widely expected to serve as a model for contract discussions at other airlines.

Almost all of the major carriers are facing pilot protests in their new contracts, requesting more pay and changes in “fatiguing” schedules.

Delta Air Lines pilots intend to protest nationally on June 30 due to “stalled” contract discussions.

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Alaska Air Group pilots have also decided to support a strike if a new contract cannot be struck.

Airlines are facing personnel shortages after letting thousands of pilots go when people stopped flying during the coronavirus outbreak.

Staff shortages have led numerous carriers to reduce their summer schedules while travel has increased.

Regional airline shortages are much worse, with attrition rates skyrocketing due to poaching by higher-paying major carriers.

To recruit and retain talent, three regional carriers owned by American Airlines announced significant pay increases for pilots this month.

Source: Reuters

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