United Airlines Cancels Pensions

To celebrate Ron’s birthday today, United Airlines cancelled pensions for flight attendants, pilots, machinists and the ground crew. The news isn’t on the internet yet – though warnings abound. Pensions for corporate employees and many employees in Europe (maybe protected by the EU?) will keep their retirement packages.

It is painful to see Ron’s anger and know that I can’t really do anything about it. One of the attendants he flew with this week had worked with PanAm and had the same thing happen to her and then United bought PanAm and now it’s happening to her again.

I believe there’s legislation in place that is supposed to protect against this sort of bullshit – but I think the fact that the corporation is in bankruptcy still means anything is fair game.

This reminds me of seeing 60-year old men and women lose their jobs when I worked for an insurance company. The last vestiges of ‘one company for life’ are dissolving finally. Now we glamourize it by calling it the ‘Free Agent Nation’ – it’s cool to be a contract worker – though usually Free Agency refers only to white-collar workers – not technicians.

Were you flying out of San Diego on Friday? Wonder why it took so long? All the ramp operators but two called in sick. Yep – two guys working the ramp and cargo for all the United flights out of San Diego. Expect delays like this.

How demoralizing. To be serving a businessman in first class and he’s reading the New York Times and the front page is how you’ve just lost your future. More coffee?

This is one reason why I have an anti-corporate bias I guess. And I think it’s going to come back to bite United in the ass. The pensions they just cancelled are the people that are on the frontline delivering world-class customer service and hospitality. They communicate the brand and the corporate values to your customers. Mess with them at you rown peril.

Notice: no cuts in corporate management. Again, middle managers preserve their paper-pushing and the upper managers keep their perks.

Right now Ron is in angry phase. I was trying to illustrate all the options before him but he’s still pretty stunned. I’d be.

Long story short: United was plummeting before 9/11. That just aggravated it. They squeezed the unions for concessions. They blew it all on Ted. Now they’re screwed.

My prediction: They’ll bust the unions and reduce the benefits further to reduce their staff to have the same status as a burger-flipper.






8 responses to “United Airlines Cancels Pensions”

  1. sam Avatar

    That makes me want to hurl. I’ve spent my last few years working primarily for temp agencies so I don’t even know the meaning of the words “benefits” and “health insurance,” but I think it only makes me more adamant about working for a company that won’t abandon its imployees or treat them like shit.

  2. JC Avatar

    that is awful.

  3. sam Avatar

    that’s employees… with an ‘e’

  4. th0m Avatar

    Well, if you look at where the money is, it is SS & medicare… these are significant blocks of money. So, the corporate republicans want to get rid of SS and medicare, Enron and Tyco used their pension programs as the primary means of theft….

    So, lets all get invested retirement accounts (ira) shall we? then we can be assured that our future is completely chance.

  5. Andy Avatar

    Ron says that it hasn’t been formally announced – but he flew with some of the union reps and they said it’s on the way.

  6. K Boilermaker Avatar
    K Boilermaker

    The vast majority of workers in America do not have pensions – rather, we invest our own earnings into 401Ks with hopefully some matching investment by our employers.

    I am tired of blue collar union workers whining about losing benefits that people who work harder, longer, and for lower pay never even dream of obtaining (and yes, I am including college educated airline employees who have abandoned any semblence of professional designation for the extortion methods of unions).

    Airline pilots making $300K per year and working ten days a week! Give me a break. Used to be that Airline pilots earned respect – now they just deservedly gain contempt. A high school educated bus driver is responsible for more lives than an airline pilot in any given month!

  7. Andy Avatar

    It’s a no-win. Unions are (seem to be) the only way to keep employment abuses in check. It’s when the union outlives it’s usefulness as an advocate for the workers and starts to become it’s own bureaucratic, self-serving monster that things get hairy.

  8. CostalPilot Avatar

    Kboilermaker wouldn’t mind paying a lot more for the pilot of his flight when it came time for a decision that would mean life or death for all onboard.

    boilermaker couldn’t write the biggest check of his life fast enough.

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