United Workers in Cleveland Get News Via Social Media of Mass Downsizing

Growing numbers of people are fired at arm's length

WKYCUnited flight attendants react to Cleveland downsizing news
It's the tenth anniversary of Facebook, the little site that became a multi-billion-dollar business. All those years ago, who could have predicted the importance of social networks? Like how they might become this season's pink slips.

There has been a growing number of people fired at arm's length, whether through text messages or posts on Facebook. But it seems that a recent surprise notification by United of a big downsizing, as it dropped Cleveland as a major hub, came as a real surprise to many who learned of the plans through social media, according to television station WKYC.

There was a letter from United CEO Jeff Smisek dated Saturday, February 1. In it, he said that the hub had been losing money for more than ten years and that the airline would cut average daily departures by about 60 percent.

Although departures to other hubs, key business markets, and a number of leisure destinations in Florida will remain, the big hit comes to regional flights. That is what will prompt cuts of an expected 430 airport operations positions and 40 catering jobs.

Although employees and unions have some sense that layoffs are coming, apparently the United employees in Cleveland who might be affected by the reductions were reportedly taken by surprise, according to WKYC.

"I've been a flight attendant for over 20 years here in Cleveland," Terri LeBlank said. "This is something very new for all of us, and we're all just kind of like, what happened? Nobody prepared us for it. It was just, we got the statement, and here we are."

The big losers among the employees will largely be ticket agents and ground crew, as the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. There has been general concern about losing the hub since United and Continental merged in 2010. Given that United already had hubs in Chicago and Newark, N.J., Cleveland was redundant.

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As the Plain Dealer further noted, officials in the city had taken recent events as positive signs. Not only had United planned to hold its 2014 annual meeting for shareholders there, but the Cleveland hub had bested other United hubs in morning on-time operations. Furthermore, United's magazine has featured Cleveland in a large supplement in this month's issue.

However, in December, United had told employees that many might be furloughed or reduced to part-time status because of schedule changes.

A local AFL-CIO official told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that almost all of the jobs were union. "These workers will have difficulty finding a new job that is as good paying," said Harriet Applegate, executive secretary of the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor.

United vice-chairman Jim Compton told the Plain Dealer that it was "essential" for the airline to make the change and that the decision was final, with "nothing" the city could do to change the company's mind.

Reductions will begin in June, with an unspecified split between layoffs and transfers. Compton also claimed that the move will stay within the terms of a deal made with the Ohio attorney general's office at the time of the merger. Although the agreement was made to run from 2010 to 2015, if losses at the hub were greater than $40 million in 2011, the airline could begin cutting service in 2013.

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In addition, the cuts are expected to affect many other local businesses, from hotels and restaurants to hospitals. In 2011, Chiquita Brands relocated from Cincinnati to Charlotte, N.C., in part because of greater flying convenience.

United Employees Latest To Discover Firings Via Social Media

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John Wampler

Bob Six (founder of Continental) is spinning in his grave!! United as a dirty word when he ran Continental. It will be a cold day in hell before I step on anything painted in a United livery.

October 08 2014 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

`Bush and the Republicans are to blame for this latest layoffs of hardworking people. Democrats have held their ground on job creation, President Obama will not negotiate or compromise on anything as important as improving the welfare of the Middle Class. President Obama must let the country know how the Republicans are obstructionist instead of trying to find common ground. If all else fails, blame Bush again and stick to that story. If you watch the News tonight I guarantee that Pelosi, Reed and Obama will blame everybody but themselves. 6 years in office, the Democrat party has yet to compromise on "anything".

October 08 2014 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

simple solution. stop flying. these people don't care about their employees at all.

February 09 2014 at 8:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

what do you expect - the merger with continental makes em the largest in the world and payin employess minimum wage because they couldn't balance their books as far back as 2002 , filed for bankruptcy , fired people closed down operations at several locations , got out of payin millions in benefit / pension packages and emerged with 3 billion in revenue by 2005 and look at em now - just like the banks on wall street - can you say "too big to fail ?"

February 09 2014 at 2:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

United got out of paying pensions to retired workers years ago in the courts. They are the perfect example of what is wrong with American business. It doesn't matter how much toil, sweat , or tears you put into their company. You are a number and when you no longer serve a purpose they dispose of you. This airline should be boycotted.

February 07 2014 at 9:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

To the commentator Mark below, blame it on Obama? He doesn't have the power to hire and fire...if the GOP wasn't so anti labor, this country could possibly turn around overnight!

February 05 2014 at 7:24 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to petescharm's comment

Being a small business owner for over 38 years your the first person who has told me Obama can save us jobs. All we have seen from him is his inexperience of running a economy. Their will be no jobs for the private sector as long as he continues to cash checks for money we don't have. Carter even udesrstood that....

February 05 2014 at 8:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cangelo629's comment

Obama has presented numerous plans to the incompetent, racist, sexist congress to generate jobs. All have been rejected. Don't blame Obama, blame the repuklicans in congress. They all should be recalled or at least fired come election day this fall.

February 06 2014 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

you are making a joke. obviously obama hates business. all business. all success. everything that anyone has worked for should be taken away and given to the government, to be dispersed amongst the lazy.

February 09 2014 at 8:05 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

This just goes to show company management doesn't have the conviction to face their employees face to face. As for Dr J P Price, he has the nerve to use our glad and the American eagle to defend business' practices. I'm sure he's not hurting for a living. No wonder millions are out of work in this country, no sense of loyalty. Besides Dr. Price, who's to work to keep the customers coming back if no one's working, the management?

February 05 2014 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to petescharm's comment

actually with a company that large , one would have to hire an outplacement firm - using social media cuts the cost , probably in halve ( at least )

February 09 2014 at 2:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There is no good way to find out you are fired. My uncle worked for a company for 40 years. He came into work one day and was called into the boss's office. He was told they were down sizing. They gave him papers to look over, and gave him a box. They told him he had one hour to clean out his office and he would then be escorted out of the building. They did that to three other long time employees that day as well.

February 05 2014 at 1:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Dr. J. P. Price

Salaries go higher, prices have to be adjusted, fuel becomes very expensive, repair, and the list goes on,,,,,all over America every person wants more money, which in turn raises prices on everyone else. Airlines have trimmed all they can, but they need to stay in business. I have flown several times on nearly empty planes, and the cost of the aircraft, the fuel, pilots, flight attendants, baggage men, and etc, is the same on a full plane as well as a nearly empty one. Employee's are the biggest expense of any company. So to cut cost and stay in business, release employees, and I believe we will see more and more of this taking place.

February 05 2014 at 11:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dr. J. P. Price's comment
John Wampler

How to make a million dollars in aviation - start with 2 million!

October 08 2014 at 8:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

can only signify more gloom and doom as we slowly slide into yet another recession....hospitals in my state have dismissed hundreds of employees as well as k-mart.. wall-mart.. and target...pennys as well,and sears as well...I see nothing but gloom and doom in the emplyoment forcast for all...sadly... for in reality the economy never improved at all as the christmas holidays were simply put on credit cards for most...good luck to all....as your going to need it

February 05 2014 at 10:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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