United Airlines holds off on lottery bonus

A newly painted United Airlines jet is seen in this UAL handout
United Said It'll Give Out $100K Prize. Workers Despise the Idea
Author

07 March, 2018

"Our intention was to introduce a better, more exciting program, but we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you", said Scott Kirby, president of United Continental, the holding company for the airline, in an email to employees.

United Airlines on Monday suspended plans to award quarterly bonuses through a new lottery system after backlash from employees over the weekend.

Hundreds of United employees signed a Change.org petition calling for the reinstatement of bonuses - and the airline was skewered for trying to peddle the lottery as a step up in worker compensation when, in reality, it was a cost-saving measure.

A United representative had mentioned, "We announced a new internal program based on United meeting certain operational and dependability metrics as a way of offering meaningful rewards to our employees, "she continued".

"As we look to continue improving, we took a step back and made a decision to replace the quarterly operational bonus and flawless attendance programs with an exciting new rewards program called "core4 Score Rewards", Kirby wrote in the memo. The grand prize would have been a $100,000 bonus payment while other prizes included new cars, vacations and cash payments starting at $2,000. Of roughly 500 comments I read, four were positive (and three of those were from the company's vice president for human resources, responding to the negative comments).

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Only employees with "perfect attendance records" would've been eligible for the lottery, excluding those who took sick leave or had emergencies.

The overwhelming majority of United's 90,000 workers would have lost bonuses that paid up to $1,500 over the course of the year. This time, however, they are in the news for replacing their employee bonus system with a lottery system, according to reports. Other employees would have gotten prizes including 50 vacation packages or 10 Mercedes.

The rewards program also drew ire in more public social-media forms, with some taking to Twitter to question the logic behind it. Chicago-based United employs about 88,000 personnel worldwide. The memo announcing the program reportedly said a maximum of 1,361 employees would receive a bonus each quarter.

So, we are pressing the pause button on these changes to review your feedback and consider the right way to move ahead.

Kirby said the airline would reach out to employee work groups and changes made would "better reflect your feedback". A United spokesperson did not say how many people complained about the change, but it was a "significant enough number".


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