Expect a Dark Christmas at United Airlines

By Robert Mark on November 30th, 2007

The Christmas season may be a bit barren this year for the people who work for United Airlines. Not of course the management folks. Somehow their piece of the pie never seems to come out damaged when things are tight.ILL_UnitedAirplane1_344x162

I was thinking more of the rank-and-file types, the flight attendants, the mechanics, the pilots, the ramp rats (affectionately), the gate agents, those people the upper echelons often refer to as the riff raff. I prefer to think of them as the folks who carry out the orders from HQ.

Now that shareholders have begun demanding more value, it would be wise for employees to realize that shareholder value and stakeholder value are not even close to the same thing.

All United employees are stakeholders because their performance – or lack of it – can have a serious effect on the company’s bottom line. Customers certainly fall in to this group as well.

However, the shareholders, the people who have become disgruntled with the dividend checks they see each quarter and are demanding more, are the folks who own the stock and for the most part control the company.

Problem is that in order to give shareholders more, United management will need to pull that value from somewhere. The most likely suckers will be the riff raff again. I stood right here about a year ago and berated the United pilots for demanding a bigger piece of the pie so soon after the company began showing a profit.

Now, a year later, I’m on their side because like them, I too believe the company is going to try squeeze more out of them and everyone else who works there. I avoid flying United like the plague, but my guess is that customers will be dragged into this fight either through higher fares or reduced services.

For me, I can’t figure out which would be worse if I were a United employee, the fact that the people in Elk Grove Illinois probably don’t even realize flight attendants, for instance, are being paid the same now as they were in the 1980s or that they probably don’t care. It’s why I still believe that while unionism may be disintegrating in other sectors, it will never die in the airline industry.

I still believe there’s a big employee/management fight coming down the road. And this time, I don’t think the White House will be able to get in the middle. Bundle up folks.


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2 Responses to “Expect a Dark Christmas at United Airlines”

  1. Bill Says:


    Remember, a contract shoved down your throat during bankruptcy proceedings is not quite the same as one arrived at by the usual negotiations. In that situation, management holds all the cards, and guess who the deck is stacked against.
    Management has no -moral- right to reward themselves richly while those that had huge percentages of thier salaries taken from them see no improvement. If ALPA had been the Teamsters of days gone by, there would be some management personell “having some accidents” about now, and nobody would feel sorry for them.

  2. Sherri Says:

    It’s really a shame to see the adverse effects of all this corporate greed during the holidays. I hope the pilots are able to reach some kind of reasonable resolution soon…

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