Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown Accuses United’s Smisek of Exacerbating “Race to the Bottom”

In a letter to United CEO Jeffrey Smisek, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) questioned the airline’s recent decision to outsource certain smaller “line stations” to low-paid vendors.

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) members and staff launched legislative efforts after United Airlines announced its outsourcing strategy, which could force hundreds of workers to relocate, to inform the public and put pressure on the airline’s leadership to rethink it’s outsourcing plans.

“I write today to express concern about the impact of your decision to rebid a number of line stations at airports across the country,” wrote Senator Brown. “Further outsourcing airport occupations will exacerbate the race to the bottom for wages in the airline industry–an action that has significant implications for the American middle class.”

United’s operational and financial performance has lagged that of its industry peers—Delta and American—and has spurred many of the airline’s critics to question the carriers business strategy.

The current IAM contract for ground workers requires that United follow certain contractual guidelines, which includes negotiations, before any outsourcing can take occur.

During congressional hearings regarding the merger of United, Continental and Continental Micronesia CEOs Glenn Tilton and Jeffrey Smisek both assured Congress that the mega-merger would not have a negative effect on frontline employment levels.

Read Senator Brown’s letter.