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Thu, Apr 03, 2008

UAL Pilots Say Company Survey Confirms Neglect Of Employees

Morale Down As CEO Tilton's Profits Are Climbing

A recent employee survey conducted by United Airlines confirms what the airline's pilots and other employees have been expressing to CEO Glenn Tilton and his executives over the past several years: that the airline has neglected its employees for too long.

According to the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association, record number of employees participated in this year's biennial survey to tell United Airlines management the same thing employees tell them every day: they don't trust, respect or have any faith in the management of United Airlines.

"The survey was called an 'Employee Climate Survey.' Well, the climate is cold, cloudy and frigid," said MEC Chairman Captain Steve Wallach. "And the forecast is for more of the same or worse."

In releasing the results of the survey, United stated, "(We want to compare ourselves to other) Fortune 500 companies whose employee experience we aspire to achieve."

The following highlights -- or lowlights, depending on your perspective -- of the survey reveal the nation's second-largest carrier has a long way to go to reach that level, according to ALPA:

  • United claims that employee engagement remained "stable" from the survey conducted two years ago. In truth, engagement is low and getting lower -- 29 percent today vs. 30 percent in 2006.
  • Employee engagement with the company was from one to eight percentage points lower in nearly all operating divisions. United's pilots and flight attendants had the largest decline in company engagement. Nine out of 10 pilots feel no connection with United Airlines.
  • United claims that employee "Pride in United" remains the highest scored item, but even those numbers dropped significantly from two years ago. This year's survey shows that only 38 percent of United employees take pride in United, down 15 percentage points from 2006. Average Fortune 500 companies find that 84 percent of their employees express pride in the company in which they work. Put another way, 62 percent of United's employees are not proud of their company, 70 percent are dissatisfied with their jobs, 73 percent are looking for new jobs and 77 percent do not think United is a great place to work.

"Time will tell whether United's executives will use the results from this survey in a positive way," said Wallach. "If history is any indication, this survey was simply window dressing; management's way of making the employees believe they are taking steps to address our concerns and our frustrations. Their slogan was 'You speak. We listen. Together we act.' In reality it is more like, 'You speak. We don't care. Get used to it.' As long as the employees are treated as commodities, they will act as commodities -- something this management has failed to grasp. Neglecting employees is a recipe for disaster in the service industry.

"The employees' voices have been expressed loud and clear. The message they have delivered is unmistakable: United Airlines' management is failing the very people who make the airline fly. And their message begs the question: How will Glenn Tilton and his executives respond? The employees, our passengers and United's investors are waiting for their answer."

FMI: www.alpa.org, www.united.com

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