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Pilots Union Wants to Work With United

CHICAGO ( TheStreet) -- The new chief of the United (UAUA) pilots union, taking a decidedly different tact than her predecessor, said Thursday she seeks "engagement" with the carrier.

"Our goals have not changed (but) the approach may have changed," said Wendy Morse, who took Jan. 1 as chairman of the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, on a conference call with reporters.

Reminded that predecessor Steve Wallach had been confrontational at every turn, Morse responded: "Our approach will be, certainly, different in many ways ...We feel that in order to gain improvements we must engage the company, so we stand ready to do that. If we get to the point where we have to be confrontational, we're certainly capable of doing that, and we will, but that is not our first choice.

"Engagement is not appeasement," she added. "We think by engaging them we can effectively have a working relationship that meets both of our needs."

The conference call itself was symbolic of the changed approach: Wallach typically avoided interaction with reporters. Additionally, Morse acknowledged that glenntilton.com, a union Website critical of United CEO Glenn Tilton, has been pulled, and a campaign in which pilots did not wear hats as a symbol of solidarity has been discontinued.

United shareholders could benefit if the carrier and its pilots choose to work together to make the carrier stronger. Pilots want United to be well-managed, Morse said, and "our intent is to engage the company and help them to run the company well so that we can be properly compensated."

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