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United Continental makes a deal with IAM

CHICAGO (AP) -- United Airlines and the union for some 30,000 ground workers announced a deal on Wednesday for a joint contract that would cover employees who came from both United and Continental before their 2010 merger.

The deal would cover fleet service, passenger service, and storekeepers at the airline.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said the package includes back pay, signing bonuses, increases in its traditional pension, as well as a 401k match. The union said its negotiating committee unanimously recommended approval.

The union said a voting schedule had not yet been set.

Having workers under one contract is a big step in integrating the two airlines. It frees the airline to schedule employees together and avoids the hassle of having separate contracts for two different contracts and sets of rules in each job category.

United pilots ratified a joint contract in December, the first unionized group to do so. Flight attendants are in negotiations for a joint contract. Teamsters mechanics are negotiating in Chicago this month in talks that are following a plan laid out by the National Mediation Board that is scheduled to run through May 1.

The IAM said talks are continuing for a contract for 1,500 instructors, food service workers, and security officers that it represents in a separate group at the airline.

Shares of Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc. rose 30 cents to close at $26.19.