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Continental flight attendants reject cuts

HOUSTON, March 31 (UPI) -- Continental Airlines flight attendants have rejected the Houston-based carrier's effort to win up to $500 million in labor cuts to stay afloat.

Although four other unions including pilots and mechanics separately approved concessions totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, the flight attendants voted against their proposed new contract, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.

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The 9,000 flight attendants are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

In a statement Thursday, the company said it was willing to go back to the table to renegotiate with the flight attendants, the Chronicle said.

The Houston airline had implied all unions had to accept cuts to avoid more drastic cost-cutting measures in the future, but later left ample wiggle room, the report said.

"We're grateful that our pilots, mechanics, dispatchers and simulator engineers ratified their agreements," Continental Chairman Larry Kellner said in a message to employees.

Continental is the last airline to approach workers for cost cuts. Airline companies together have lost more than $30 billion in the past three years.

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