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This story, and these comments, are appalling. I know, and I live this story every day, because I am a United Airlines Captain. I have been with UAL for over 25 years (which means that I was hired AFTER the bitter 1985 strike). As an employee, it is very hard for me to watch the boarding videos that many of our frequent flyers also wince at. Yes, Mr. Smisek certainly says all the right words; teamwork, satisfied employees, professional service, fair, rewarding, leadership. Then he talks about how we now have "professional management", and how that improves the lives of everyone that "professional management" touches. Yes, he says the words. Then, there is the experience. The employees you are all discussing here have had the following experiences in the past twenty years. 1. Bought the company with six years and nine months of sacrificed pay. 1a. Watched the company run into a bankruptcy where all that stock was voided. United is still here, all the operations continue, just new owners and very well paid lawyers. Bankruptcy to nine BILLION dollars in cash in just a few years. We all watched while State Street Bank "protected" us, hanging on to the stock from over $120/sh to $.78/sh. Over two billion dollars was taken from the employees before "professional management" tanked the company. For a reference point, go see what Mr. Arpey had to say about his Board of Directors taking AA into bankruptcy with Bain Capital as their $14 million a MONTH advisors. 2. My pay is half what I made 14 years ago, about equal to my pay in 1994. 3. I had to fight to keep my children on my medical insurance after United lost the paperwork they started to "verify" that, after ten years, my children were still my children. 4. Could not access my Flexible Spending Account due to United vendors changing software on the cheap. 5. Pass privileges? Please, it's a painful memory. 6. Pension, oh yes, taken in bankruptcy. 7. Payroll accounting-Only United could screw up a peoplesoft product implementation, payroll functioned without one single error for decades, "professional management" can't fix problems they created six months ago. 8. Passenger Service-I had the gall to apologize to my 150 passengers for a shares delay of 45 minutes one day. I was asked to write a letter of apology TO MANAGEMENT for mentioning the problem. (I think the videos also say something about being truthful and taking responsibility). An army of people who used to WORK at United are gone now, replaced by an army of people who carry clipboards and watches and take notes. They have no idea how to do the work at hand, but by God they are going to make it better, faster, and cheaper. Meanwhile, the folk who actually know the work the best, the ones who DO it, well; tell you what, you just fly the airplane, and we'll run the company. Great Job Guys. When the employees owned this company, and it was a cooperative effort by a company-wide team of dedicated, committed, engaged, respected (for real, not the words), and supported employees who would tell you how they LOVED United, it was run like a swiss watch. As the article above describes so well, there are companies run this way, by a LEADERSHIP team. At United, we have "professional management" instead. I think you can make your own judgement about the effectiveness of the two. Kind of makes you yearn for the days when Airlines (and other companies) were run by folk who loved the business, built it, owned it (I mean EARNED it), and were it it for the long haul. To build a successful business was an honorable thing, today; it's a quarterly earnings thing, and then off to the next "professional" temporary duty. There were guys like Robert Six, Pat Patterson, C.R. Smith, even Bob Crandall. You didn't have to love labor to build a service company, you had to love the company and respect the folk who toiled for you. That's all. I used to be the Captain who ran downstairs to make sure the jetway air conditioning was cold and properly hooked up. Who helped the mechanic with the cowling and held the flashlight for him. I used to write notes to MY guests, and thank them for their business. I wrote reports, hundreds of reports, on everything from bad coffee to more efficient taxi techniques. No more. I have been told to do my job, and I do my job. My love for aviation has been ground into dust. After 15 years of being lied to, deceived, ignored, blamed falsely; and watching the same mistakes being made over and over again by a "professional management" that never seems to learn from the copious reports of our new "watchers", I give. It's not an easy thing to do. I am an Eagle Scout, an entrepreneur, and a retired Air Force Officer with over 22 years of service. Those twelve points of the Scout law still mean something to me, especially the first three. I have been in great units and not so great units, and the difference ALWAYS came down to LEADERSHIP. Most (and I will be the first to admit not all) of the employees that you all have been talking about here are desperate. They would give anything to find a LEADER, with a VISION, and a sense of HONOR to lead this company. Though I never knew him, I know that Pat Patterson is somewhere crying, perhaps sobbing, as he watches the wonderful company he BUILT OVER DECADES dismantled by a crew of Harvard and Yale trained lawyers. I know I am. Please forgive me, I did try to be brief........
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Aug 14, 2012