As United Airlines fights for survival, the “other shoe dropped” yesterday: it will not just be frontline employees who feel the pain.
Kate Gebo, United Executive Vice President of Human Resources, laid out the news to employees. The extended memo, obtained by Live and Let’s Fly, includes more dire predictions and all but assures job losses are on the horizon for United’s management and administrative (M&A) employees.
Here are some highlights from the note:
- Between May 16 and September 30, domestic M&A employees will be required to take 20 unpaid days off.
- For non-operational M&A employees, a four-day work week will be implemented with Fridays being the assumed day off.
- No vacation rollover days, except as required by state law.
- At least 50% of employee vacation time must be used by September 30tg.
- United planning for an M&A population that will be “at least 30% smaller” than it is today, with some work groups impacted more significantly than others.
- Affected employees will be notified in mid to late July for an October 1st effective date.
- Employees encouraged to consider Voluntary Separation Program
- “If you participate…you will have the opportunity to maintain active pass travel privileges and medical benefits for an extended period of time, along with some continuation of pay.”
- United will not be offering a cash severance package to any departing member of the M&A team effective October 1st.
- “[E]nsuring United’s future recovery means we are not able to make this option available. Because of this, we’re trying to give everyone as much notice as possible that changes are coming, and we’re making the voluntary options as attractive as possible.”
Devastating News For United Employees…
I think there is no other way to describe this news except as devastating. With demand down 90% and likely to recovery slower than initially hoped, a 30% reduction in staff is sadly just the start. But this is not just a stat: every job has a story. I’ve spoken to several employees this week who are already starting to look for new work. One person told me, “Just two months ago it seemed like I had my career locked up and now it’s been ripped away in an instant. Very depressing.”
Very depressing indeed and my heart goes out to the wonderful men and women who faithfully and diligently come to work each day, simply trying to make an honest living.
One employee I spoke to said, “Was this news really necessary now? Couldn’t they just have waited till July to see how things went?” But another employee expressed the opposite conclusion, stating, “Well, at least they told us now and didn’t spring it on us in the summer.” United finds itself in a lose-lose situation as it grapples with its biggest battle in its nearly 100 year history.