Some United pilots not working overtime, flights canceled

CHICAGO - United Airlines canceled about 150 flights nationwide Thursday because some pilots were refusing to work overtime in a protest over a lack of progress in contract talks, the company said.

Airline spokesman Andy Plews said a total of 381 of United's 2,400 daily flights were canceled Thursday, though most of them were grounded by bad weather in the Midwest, not because of crew shortages.

The Elk Grove Village, Ill.-based airline has taken steps to cope with the pilots' job action, Plews said.

''We are fine-tuning our schedule of 2,400 flights and canceling flights up to a week ahead in advance, then notifying customers so they can make other plans,'' Plews said.

Spokeswoman Kathy White of the Air Line Pilots Association did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

Under federal law, airline contracts do not expire and most airline workers are prohibited from striking unless they receive permission from the National Mediation Board. United and the pilots are negotiating with a federal mediator.

Plews said he couldn't comment on the negotiations, but the union has said the issues include wages, job security and benefits.

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