CHICAGO_United Airlines' flight attendants have overwhelmingly ratified an agreement for a defined-contribution retirement plan, their union said Friday in an announcement signaling the end of the union's rancorous battle against the company over pensions.
The union said more than 79 percent of flight attendants who cast ballots voted to approve the new pension plan, which replaces defined-benefit pensions terminated by the airline as part of its three-year bankruptcy restructuring.
The new plan, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, includes company direct and matching contributions beginning at 5 percent and escalating to 6 percent of a flight attendant's earnings within two years.
In a traditional pension plan - also known as a defined-benefit plan - employers foot the entire bill, contributing the money, managing the investments, and sending workers a set monthly check at retirement.
But many larger companies, bridling at the cost and unpredictability of such plans, are moving away from traditional pensions.
The Association of Flight Attendants agreed last month to drop its legal action over the pension terminations as part of a tentative settlement reached just before United came out of bankruptcy.
Shares in United fell 34 cents to close at $35.80 Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market, down 10.5 percent from the initial $40 price when the company's new stock began trading Feb. 2.
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