Pilots' union leaders at United Continental, parent of United Airlines, called on Thursday for its members to hold a strike vote after failing to agree a contract after two years of talks with management.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents pilots who flew for what were United and Continental before the two merged in 2010, did not set a date for a vote.

There is no guarantee a strike vote will go ahead, but the step taken by the ALPA meeting in Washington raises the stakes in negotiations over a contract with management for 12,000 pilots. Those talks have stalled under federal mediation.

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