Earlier this week I wrote about United Airlines’ problematic new pilot union boss. There’s a major update, as he has now resigned.
Captain Neil Swindells resigns as head of United MEC
Captain Neil Swindells has resigned as head of the United Airlines Master Executive Council (MEC) of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), just days after being voted to lead the 14,000+ member union. He wrote a resignation letter to members late Wednesday, which reads as follows:
There has been a significant negative response to things I posed on a pilot forum. While many of these things have been taken completely out of context and publicly weaponized against me, I cannot ignore their existence and the damaging effect it has had on many of my fellow pilots. For that, I am truly sorry and apologize unreservedly.
In accordance with personal and professional standards I have maintained throughout my entire career at United Airlines, and to avoid any damage to the reputation of the Company, my Union, and more importantly the 15,000 pilots I stepped forward to represent, I hereby resign from the position of Master Chair and the privilege of the UAL BOD seat with which it comes.
When I was asked to step forward, representing the United Airlines pilot group was the highest honor I could imagine and the pinnacle of my long and staunch union career. Out of respect for you, the 15,000 pilots of United Airlines, it became clear my position was untenable and a negative distraction to achieving what we all want… an Industry Leading Contract.
I want to thank the many, many people who know me personally and have supported me through the recent days, knowing this attack does not represent who I am as a person, a husband, a father, or a professional pilot at United Airlines. I have had a spotless record of service to the Association and the Company for over 27 years, but errors in judgment on a pilot forum may have damaged that reputation. I hope it has not.
I thank you for the privilege of serving you. I hope we can overcome the tribalism that has dominated UAL ALPA politics for far too long. As I said at the outset of the election, and I made clear to the MEC at the election, I had no political agenda, only service and the desire to serve your best interests. That is no longer possible.
It is time for me to go back to the Line and do what I have loved doing for over 27 years, which is flying with the best, most professional pilots in the aviation industry. You deserve the best contract in the industry to match and it is time for this distraction to end.
Well done, Captain Swindells!
While it took a couple of days, I’m happy to see Swindells decided to resign. Ultimately it would have said a lot about United pilots if someone with a record like this were able to keep their role, and even serve on the United Airlines Board of Directors to represent pilots.
Prior to resigning, Swindells had issued a half-hearted apology, apologizing to those who he may have offended (rather than apologizing for being offensive). Even in this resignation note he defends himself somewhat, saying the comments were “taken completely out of context and publicly weaponized against [him].”
I think that kind of misses the point. We’re talking about a 60ish year old man posting in forums and saying about some of his colleagues “I hope they all died slow painful deaths of a anal cancer requiring multiple surgeries, and copious amounts of seepage from weeping wounds.”
He seems to still not understand that the issue here isn’t context, it’s that this isn’t how an adult (and a father, no less) should be communicating. Or is there any context in which this kind of communication is appropriate?
Earlier this week, United Airlines pilots appointed a new leader by a 9-8 margin. As it turns out, this guy has recently been posting some pretty awful things online, and doesn’t seem like the person pilots should want representing them on the United Airlines Board of Directors. Fortunately he has stepped down now, so hopefully the union chooses more carefully next time…
What do you make of this resignation?