"A potential problem for United is labor unrest among its pilots, who said last week that they had voted to authorize a strike. Were the National Mediation Board to release the airline and its pilots from further mediated negotiations, a strike could follow after a 30-day cooling off period.
Although a strike authorization had support from 99% of the pilots who voted, Wolfe Trahan analyst Hunter Keay wrote that he does not believe a strike is likely.
"We view a pilot strike at UAL as a miniscule possibility," Keay wrote. "Since deregulation no pilot group at a domestic airline as large as UAL is now has ever been permitted to (strike)," Keay said.
In 1997, President Clinton sent American pilots back to work after they struck the airline. American accounted for 17% of industry capacity at the time, while United today accounts for 21% of capacity, an indication that a United strike would probably not be permitted, even by a Democratic president. Nevertheless, Keay wrote, "That's not to say the mere concept of (a strike) can't serve as an overhang to the stock. Labor law is complicated, so headlines matter.""