United CEO Scott Kirby has not written many holiday notes during his brief tenure and seems to prefer video messages, something his predecessor never missed. But this is a bittersweet Labor Day for United Airlines and the entire airline industry and Kirby used the opportunity to share a family story in his 2020 note.
2020 Labor Day Message From United CEO Scott Kirby
A couple friends at United forwarded Kirby’s note to me and I’ve chosen to reproduce it in full:
Needless to say, this Labor Day weekend will be much different than what we’re used to – less flights, less customers, and less hustle and bustle through our airports. One thing I know for sure we won’t have less of is heart, the heart of our United family that has kept us united and continues to beat strongly as we face the worst crisis in the history of our airline. As we prepare for this Labor Day holiday weekend, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the incredible patience, perseverance and passion you’ve displayed during these very tough times.
On days like Labor Day, I think about my father-in-law, who worked at our San Francisco hub for 42 years. He was a freshman in college when his father passed away and he had to return home to support the family. He got a job at United and spent his entire career in our contact centers, customer service and on the ramp. He worked tremendously hard at a job that provided for his family and allowed him to send his children to college. Every action we’re taking as a company right now is to ensure we’re able to return to growth when the crisis is over. I truly look forward to when we can welcome United family members back to careers like my father-in-law’s.
I especially want to recognize our unions, who have helped build and define – and now sustain – our airline. Thank you to union partners for working with us to develop creative solutions that have benefitted our employees, saved jobs and strengthened United for the long term. Thousands of United employees are *not* facing furloughs today because of that good work – and for those that are, we’ll be able to bring them back sooner, because our airline is positioned to bounce back quicker. This commitment to collaboration and doing our best to look out for one another is the real power of the #BeingUnited team.
You might ask why this note to employees is newsworthy. First, I found the family link of interest…I had no idea his father-in-law spent 42 years working for United. Second, this recognition and praise of unions may fit the bill for Labor Day, but seems a difficult argument to make after a heavy push for more flexible work arrangements could have avoided the thousands of furloughs scheduled to take effect next month (unions said no thanks).
This is indeed a much different Labor Day than we are used to. For all of us…inside and outside the airlines industry…let’s hope this Labor Day does not become a new long-term reality.