IMHO Anderson left NW
suddenly and went to UnitedHealthCare as CEO because he had taken all the cuts he could without touching the employees.
Doug Steenland was brought in to do the dirty work--put the airline In Chapter 11, abrogate the contracts, slash pay rates, terminate the pension plans and, in short, to be the bad guy. It's a crappy job but somebody had to do it. But in all fairness he did NOT turn the pension plans at NW
over to the PBGC.They just froze where they were. DL
did dump their pensions and they have that nasty social security offset which kills lower level employees.
Richard comes out a few years later taking a quiet seat on the board at DL
and gee, what a surprise, is suddenly named CEO. He is a very competent, likable guy that appears to be honest on a one on one level. I have met and spoken with him on numerous occasions. He is approachable, insists that you call him Richard, is responsive and has gone out of his way to make this merger work with as little drama as possible.
For example, the NW
f/a's were AFA members. Of course, DL
had no union. AFA refused to even RESPOND to the DL
seniority merger committee's request to meet and talk. Then they (the DL
merger committee) came forward and said "how about we merge based on straight date of hire." Nothing could have been more fair and really helped the NW
folks to buy into the DL
image. Instantly fears were gone and we could talk as equals.
But, again, IMHO, the one greatest feat was achieving a tenable pilot contract between the two groups quickly and with (relatively little) animosity prior to the final merge. They are a tough bunch that protect themselves at all costs. Not that that is a bad thing--they have incredible unity (usually). There is some grumbling about "career expectations" and which seat on what airplane they will sit in but no one is complaining about their salaries.
As f/a's, the pilots are at the head of the chain of command--I just wish more of us would follow their lead off the airplane as well as onboard. They are savvy folks who know what they are doing--we tend to deal from a more "emotional" level.
BTW, just as a matter of interest, guess which company has the contract for all DL
Qualified on Concorde/B707/B720/B727/B737/B747/B757/B767/B777/DC-8/DC-9/DC-10/A319/A320/A330/MD-88-90