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I welcome your feedback and concern for my personal well-being. I would say that although I am no cat, I will always land on my feet and given the bath I have taken at UAL they will be very clean feet indeed.

I do understand your personal frustration as well as the traveling publics over the turmoil that has occurred within United since well before 9-11. I am part of United (employee & shareholder) and have no option other than to accept responsibility for what occurred and as such I do have a great deal of remorse over what has happened to this company and the people we are suppose to serve. However, the bottom line comes down to the proverbial ?which came first the chicken or the egg? question. Were employees preemptively acting up or was our company?s leadership playing an unneeded game of chicken at contractual crossroads instead of striving for fair and equitable treatment of employees.

We operate under the Railway Labor Act, which is archaic and inherently conflict inducing rather than being a vehicle to facilitate mutually equitable resolution. Contracts in our industry never expire they merely become amendable when they get to the end of the agreement period. It is common for negotiations to wallow for 2, 3, to over 4 years past the amendable date in this limbo. In fact, it is to a company?s advantage to prolong negotiations as there is no provision (in the RLA) that requires compensation - benefit increases to be retroactive to the amendable date. This stalling then becomes a de facto wage and benefit freeze. Self-help under the RLA is very limited for unions. The entire RLA is in dire need of updating to meet the needs of this century and technology.

United was wrong in not seeking early resolution with the pilots, as wrong as, the pilots? wholesale disregard for the passengers. This is problematic with the system. A pilot has ultimate right of refusal for an aircraft and an example of how this can be corrupted is that I have seen it used to refuse to fly for an inop video system. There is no check and balance system for pilots as even the Flight Manager is a member of the union and assumes that function on a temporary status and will never over-ride a pilots choice and seldom if ever discipline such behavior.

Mechanics can find defects which is one reason we exist yet any other licensed mechanic including management types who are non-union can sign that defect off as ?OK for Service? thirty seconds later by using appropriate technical data reference. I will not insult you and say no abuse of the system occurred during that time but the choice to cancel flights is solely a management function and they have the ability to clear any unjustified defects just as quickly. The entire episode could have also been avoided by reaching an on-time agreement which in hind sight may have been much less expensive for the company as the first airline to settle gets the least expensive contract. Did mechanics cause the number of delays and cancellations the passengers were forced to deal with? I am as certain as you are that some responsibility can be lain squarely at our feet but without question the overall impact of that time was magnified by Senior Management?s desire to get a Restraining Order against us.

I agree with you 150% on the use of our tax money to bail out airlines that were failing prior to the 11th. As an individual I will not bail-out this or any company as I have not seen this to be a financially wise investment. I hope Mr. Creighton will reorder our company in a way that makes sense to everyone inside and out but being a thinker too I fear that may be too big of a chicken to fry even for him. I guess the bottom line is we all have yolk on our faces!
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