Saturday, May 14, 2005
United's management showed its true colors on Wednesday, when it persuaded a bankruptcy judge to approve United Airlines' request to terminate its pension plans, clearing the way for the largest corporate pension default in history and setting the stage for a possible strike by the airline's flight attendants. I am supposed to travel to the US at the end of next week. Even if the Flight Attendants are not on strike, somehow I think my flying experience will be less than enhanced. I'll be lucky if I even get a beer, much less any service. After my last flight with them to Hong Kong, they are definitely not on my to ten list. Problem is I have over 300,000 miles with the airline, 3 times what I have with any other. If that goes away, I'll never see a business class cabin again.
If I were a United employee, I'd be making up signs for the picket line too. This comes as a fine piece of payback , after they weaseled wage cuts, increased hours, and other concessions from all of the airlines unions. Yet United still claims they are poor. Everytime I have flown them from Tokyo, the plane is full. That does not stop them from paying Glenn Tilton, President and CEOUnited Air Lines, over 1.1 million dollars last year. Now mind you, I have little sympathy for many of the airline's employees, especially their pilots who for years got salaries that were overly inflated, and not on par with the days per month that they worked. And if you read my earlier post you can surmise that the poor service of the elderly hags serving as flight attendants is not something I want to crow about. However, this running away from a real coporate responsibility is just plain wrong and bodes ill for the employees of other companies that seek to shirk their corporate responsibilities under the protection of the bankruptcy courts. The flight attendants made a great point when they wrote to the airline:
This is the end of labor relations at United Airlines with Glenn Tilton and his henchmen at the helm. The United Airlines that we have worked so hard to build is gone. Our efforts today are focused on creating a new airline from the ashes of the old and we will do this by employing escalating CHAOS(tm) activities focused on bring down this management group. The decisions that they have made are short-sighted, destructive and are contrary to a successful reorganization.
This management team has long since proven it cannot run an airline. Now it has shown that it has no common sense you cannot run a service business while waging war on your front line employees. The United Board of Directors must act quickly to remove these executives before they destroy this airline.
We are gravely concerned for the success of our airline and the inept and dishonest actions of this management. We have proven our dedication to our airline through service and life-altering sacrifices. Meanwhile executives have run our airline into the ground and have engaged us in a labor relations war. There can be no labor peace with a management that has destroyed our pensions.
Yea, I can see it now. "May I have another beer please?" " Screw you cowboy, the fridge is in the back, get it your self. You still have your pension!"
In all seriousness, I agree with them. I could see hiring new employees with a new 401 K or some other plan. However to simply turn your back on a long term promise, made by a corporate entity, soley because you want to be greedy is just plain wrong. What's worse is that the American government will defend these actions, even as the President seeks to remove the safety net of Social Security. If the President of the United States were serious about that he would be holding United's feet to the fire. Instead he stays silent. Just like his buddy Rumsfeld's determination to screw over military retirees, he fails to see pensions as benefits that are earned, like employee paychecks, not a bonus to be given as long as a company can afford it. It's immoral that just because they happen to be in a legal situation, they can walk away from those obligations. He and every other politician should be screaming.
What really infuriates me is that this biggest ever default of pensions, will not be the first. More will follow, now that the court has opened the door. Conservatives will praise this as proof that this is good for individuals in the long run. Its not, but you won't hear that from the right wingers who already have money in the bank. Oh, and by the way, I'm saving money every month for my future, but has anyone paid attention to what the US and other stock markets have been doing lately? I'll give you a hint, the trend is not upward.
It's wrong for companies to be let off the hook when it comes to fulfilling their pension plans. The judge in this case thought it would be better for the current employees of United Airlines to keep their jobs rather than the retirees of United Airlines to keep the pensions the company owes them. He's nuts.
"The employees of United Airlines are all of the age where they can go and find other jobs. The retirees of United Airlines are not. They are the ones who have no options.
If we don't fix Social Security and then also start letting companies walk away from their pension plans, what is left for older Americans whose savings are finite?" ( Text from Battlepanda).
Well, I guess it will be good news for some rich person. In the meantime, I have to deal with a mean spirited crew who's just been done dirt by their company, all so I can get across the pond. Assuming they are not on strike next week. Thanks for nothing.
P.S. Hat Tip and thanks to Battlepanda for providing some great insight on this issue.