Don't feel sorry for the employees, they are directly the cause of this mess. Just be thankful our tax dollars aren't bailing them out.
Following are some quotes from Scot Mcartney's column in the Wall Street Journal today. It's an excellent commentary, if you can get a copy of today's WSJ you should read the whole thing.
"Since the U.S. Department of Transportation began publishing on-time statistics in 1987, United has ranked ninth out of the nine major airlines. In the past five years, United has been either last or next-to-last in baggage handling. For 2000 and 2001, United led the industry in customer complaints."
"And in Chicago, American has narrowed United's advantage. In March of 1999, shortly after American's passenger-infuriating pilot sickout, United had an 18-percentage-point edge over American in share of domestic revenue in Chicago, according to J.P. Morgan. By the summer of 2000, when United had its customer-infuriating pilot slowdown, the gap was just nine points -- and it has remained at about nine points since."
"One can build a case that the summer of 2000 was the turning point for United. UAL managers were desperately trying to win approval from labor and government to acquire US Airways Group Inc., and were willing to buy pilot approval. Pilots were out for blood. Rick Dubinsky, the former head of United's pilot's union, famously said pilots didn't want to kill the golden goose, "We just want to choke it by the neck until it gives us every last egg.
Instead, it was passengers who got choked. To force management's hand, pilots ground United's operation to a snail's pace. "
"United's mechanics earlier this year wanted a deal better than the rich new contract signed by mechanics at Northwest Airlines. No doubt that they'd get it -- employees own more than half of United's stock and both pilots and mechanics have great clout on the board of directors."
"What's more, United CEO Jim Goodwin, who had accurately predicted trouble only to anger employee-owners, stepped down in October 2001, under fire from employees. The ship was rudderless at a crucial time."
"For employee ownership to work, employees have to act like owners, not employees. At United, that didn't happen."
"Perhaps more importantly, employees thought the company should be run for employees, not customers. Employees at times abused customers to get what they wanted. The lack of customer service surely has caught up to United."