Outsourcing United CEO Feeling Heat from Congress

Members of Iowa’s congressional delegation are calling out United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek for the carrier’s decision to outsource more than 600 jobs at 12 U.S. airports, including 48 jobs at Des Moines International Airport.

United has also announced plans for contract workers to replace United employees at airports in Albuquerque, NM; Buffalo, NY; Charleston, SC; Charlotte, NC; Columbus, OH; Detroit; El Paso, NM; Sioux Falls, SD; Wichita, KS; Pensacola, FL; and Salt Lake City.

In a letter to Smisek, U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Reps. Bruce Braley (D-IA) and Dave Loebsack (D-IA) call on the United chief executive to provide them with a comparison of wages and benefits for IAM-represented employees and the contract workers slated to replace them.

“This decision is a significant step backwards for Iowa workers and our local communities and a glaring example of a wage race to the bottom that is becoming all too familiar in the airline industry,” the lawmakers wrote. “These steps are particularly troubling given your assertions to the Congress in 2010 that the merger would be good for employees and have a minimal effect on the jobs of frontline employees.”

Harkin, Braley and Loebsack point out that United posted almost $1.1 billion in profit last year, an 84 percent increase from the previous year.

“Furthermore, we hope that this decision is not part of a larger targeted plan to weaken union representation and collective bargaining at our nation’s airports,” the lawmakers continue. “During a period in which our country struggles with growing income inequality and workers have to fight tooth and nail to get their fair share of the wealth that they help to create, the last thing that a profitable company should be doing is slashing the wages and benefits of its workforce.”

Click here to read the entire letter to United CEO Jeff Smisek.