United Airlines on Friday announced a $250 million onetime payout to shareholders, with management lauding the move highly. CEO Glenn Tilton announced that the payment, which will be given out at $2.15 a share, shows the airline’s “commitment to creating value for our investors… [United must] “compete for shareholders, just as we compete for customers.”
Unions, rather unsurprisingly, gave a dim view of the payout, and said that the airline should be spending the extra cash on employees, rather than give it to investors. Mark Bathurst, head of the pilots union at United, said that “the battle lines have now been drawn…by its actions, [United management] has abandoned any pretense of working in partnership with its employees to make United strong and profitable.”
While it’s nice that United is in a financial situation that’s stable enough to be able to make these payouts, management ought to keep an eye on the unions, too. They have a valid point – United’s workers did sacrifice quite a bit during the airline’s stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It’s time that employees got a little something back. Even a relatively small sum could be seen as a nice gesture on the part of management and would certainly be money well spent. United has had a history of antagonistic labor-management relations, and taking some money and spending it on employees could help improve things a bit.