United Airlines Claims India Job Postings Were Error

Filed Under: United

Yesterday I posted about how United Airlines had several job postings in India. These were all for positions that were until recently in the United States, and comes at a time when United Airlines wants billions more dollars from taxpayers in order to preserve American jobs.

United Airlines pulls India job listings

Well that didn’t take long. A United Airlines spokesperson has confirmed that United’s job postings in India were an error:

“A limited number of non-critical, new positions were recently posted in error and we are taking them down. While United instituted a hiring freeze several months ago, we have a small number of critical roles to backfill across our airline as a result of employees taking early retirement or voluntarily separating from United. All of these U.S. based, critical roles will remain in the United States.”

Live and Let’s Fly says that we can only speculate as to whether this was an error in posting or an error in getting caught. I mean, is that something we really need to speculate about? “Oh man, I just hate when job postings randomly show up on our website that we didn’t intend to post,” said no one ever.

These job postings have all appeared within the past couple of weeks. And @xJonNYC even notes that employees raised questions about this during a town hall, and it was brushed off:

“This was a highly-demanded/top five (out of 100) question during a recent town hall and the response was a complete non-response. Saying these are still United employees just the same is disingenuous when they are being paid a fifth of what their American counterparts receive.”

I think it’s fairly safe to assume that the “error” was getting caught and realizing the optics of this, rather than anything else. But I at least commend United for realizing the optics of this, rather than doubling down on its approach.

Did United Airlines do anything wrong here?

I want to clarify my stance on this, and also provide a bit more background on the situation:

  • For the past few years, United Airlines has been moving quite a few management roles to India, including functions like network planning (I use the term “management” to differentiate from frontline employees, as I’m not suggesting these people are director level)
  • As such I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the concept of offshoring jobs, as that’s part of a global economy
  • I wouldn’t have bat an eyelid if these jobs were posted like this prior to the airline getting billions of dollars from the government intended to save American jobs
  • United Airlines isn’t violating any laws with this

Where does the problem arise?

  • United Airlines accepted billions of dollars in US taxpayer support in exchange for not involuntarily furloughing any US employees through at least September 30
  • If that were the end of it I’d say “well the optics are bad, but that’s fine”
  • But United Airlines is now aggressively seeking a full extension of this payroll support for another six months, doing this under the guise of keeping the airline industry going and protecting American jobs
  • At the same time, United has eliminated roughly 30% of US management jobs, and is now backfilling many of these roles in India

As you can see in the quote from the spokesperson above, the airline claims that some roles had to be backfilled due to employees who accepted early retirement or voluntary separation packages from the airline.

Who is ultimately funding those voluntary separation and early retirement packages? Well, largely taxpayers, and that’s especially true if the airline were to get a further six month extension of payroll support.

Many of these packages involve several months of additional pay. If the airline were to get another six months of payroll support based on pre-coronavirus employment levels, taxpayers would quite directly be covering those severance packages, all for those jobs to just be backfilled in India.

Bottom line

United Airlines claims its India job postings were an “error,” and has taken them down. The job postings weren’t an “error” when employees asked management about it during a recent town hall, though.

Want to offshore jobs? I’m mostly fine with that. I understand airline management is there to maximize shareholder value. In this case part of maximizing shareholder value would be getting billions more dollars from taxpayers to pay employee salaries. And the optics of that aren’t very good when you offshore jobs to India, all while asking the government for money in order to protect American jobs.

  1. Lol. United got caught red handed. This is one good thing about social media. In the past, these kind of things would go unnoticed. At the same time though, social media had caused more divide in American society than good imo. The genie is out of the bottle and it’s never going back! Just watch those job boards…. once United get their money from US government, I have no doubt they will start posting those jobs again in India! Lol

  2. To somewhat defend myself, clearly the postings were deliberate. I meant error in timing. Perhaps these were not supposed to have gone up until CARES actually expired. Either way, I personally believe United knew exactly what it was doing and agree with your take on the situation. Pretty stupid to think this would go unnoticed…

  3. *insert meme ref of iCarly*
    everyone: Umm, what you’ve got there?
    United with their outsourcing plan: a smoothie

  4. @ Ben — “I mean, is that something we really need to speculate about? “Oh man, I just hate when job postings randomly show up on our website that we didn’t intend to post,” said no one ever.”

    Thanks, I needed a good ROFL today.

  5. So you’re fine with a US company sending jobs overseas?

    So you are fine with adding to US unemployment rolls?

    So you must then be fine with the various levels of government loosing tax revenue that pays for your public services?

    About time the US stopped giving tax allowances to companies that do this sort of thing and change the economics of offshoring.

  6. United is simply doing some damage control. United will continue working to outsource jobs once the issue is no longer in the spotlight.

  7. RACKMETRO – bingo. The mistake was that this wasn’t the right moment to post the jobs. Wait 6 months, retry. If it fails, call it another mistake.

  8. @Ben Respectfully, I’m confused by your attempt at impartiality with claiming “I don’t care about Globalization”, yet clearly you DO care for the two people you know who have lost their jobs. Perhaps you don’t want to offend your international readers with nationalism, but I find it hard to believe you’d fault someone from abroad wanting their own community to stay in tact and vibrant. American workers should care about this. Americans should care if a neighbor’s job is moved overseas. We should want success in our communities and country. Jobs do matter, esp when unemployment has spiked. If not, one day we will all wake up and realize we are living in a waste land devoid of skills, knowledge and ultimately opportunity. (I’m from Detroit and know what off shoring does.)

  9. The error is absolutely in getting caught.

    My contact at United Network Planning told me that they got rid of the entire data team supporting NP department in Chicago, including director all the way down to analyst level.

    So it’s no surprise that they’re offshoring those data science positions to India for a fraction of the cost

  10. Airlines are disgusting swamp creatures, all of them (Southwest maybe less so). They treat customers so poorly in the good times, wring more and more revenue out of them while simultaneously “enhancing” their service offering downward. They reward shareholders above all else including employees and customers alike through stock buybacks and cost cutting.

    Then, when the times are bad, they realize they’ve already turned the screws on every other part of their business, so they just run to the government with their hands open. Highly ironic because the money is coming from those same customers they’ve mistreated all these years prior, and they STILL only care about protecting shareholders with moves like this. When will people and government just stand up and say NO to these companies behavior???

  11. The only error United really meant to say was that it was released too early, or they misjudged how badly it was going to look in the public eye.

    This will just get reposted after the handouts stop.

  12. These jobs will still go to India, they will just not be listed on the United website, they will go through an agency to do it.

  13. They have the audacity to say people voluntarily separated? They eliminated positions then gave people two terrible options: no pay or benefits or take a “voluntary package” with flying benefits for 3 years and a 25% pay “severance” + medical until November 30th. They claim people voluntary separated so they could cut them before the CARES act and then do this. It’s disgusting. People were just discarded and get this: They have to reapply for their positions if it opens back up.

  14. I doubt that the postings were in error. Anyone who works in HR or management knows that these things are thoroughly vetted and approved beforehand. Jobs like this, with full requirements, salary info, and work locations aren’t simply announced willy nilly. While mistakes can happen, I suppose, I personally seriously doubt that this was a mistake – this was United’s plan but they realized how bad this looked and backed away. They understand that there’s no way they could get US Gov’t assistance while offshoring additional jobs.

  15. So sad, what should we expect from UAL? Move to Delta and if you want to travel internationally opt for Air Canada.

  16. American also currently has a bunch of job openings listed in management and clerical type positions. These are all U.S. based jobs though.

  17. Ha ha, what a joke. I am already greeting customer service with ‘Namaste’ when I call them. My last 5 calls chasing after my miles ended up in India.

  18. In Related News: more than 300,000 Indians will be migrating to the U.S.A. in the Year 2021.
    So either way,you will be seeing Indians at Boeing,7-Eleven and at Free Hand Outs at Churches. In Silicone Valley most Indians make avg $250,000/yr or more,But you can always spot them in Free Food Lines at Food Banks,Churches,etc in Fremont, San Ramon,etc

  19. LOL can’t wait until they start issuing H1B visas to Indian pilots because, after all, they just “can’t find the talent” in the United States. Meanwhile, there will be thousands of Americans on furlough for years to come. United management deserves the bad press it’s getting. I have no sympathy.

  20. Ben… OK so far as you go, but your implication that the bottom line mission of the BOD is to maximise shareholder value is the same one dimensional approach to managing a corporation that got Boeing in so much trouble. Maximising shareholder value comes at about #4 after maximising customer loyalty, growing the company intelligently, and ensuring employees are on board and treated well. As a BOD, if you’re going to focus primarily on shareholder value, stock appreciation, and dividends, then you’re going down that slippery slope that has trashed Boeing’s reputation and leadership, where the CEO focused almost exclusively on shareholder appreciation with cost cutting, workflow outsourcing, share buybacks, and all the other stock manipulation slight of hand that the bottom tier MBA graduates can recite by rote.
    Airlines need “airline men (or women)” running them like Pat Patterson, Juan Trippe, Herb Kelleher, Reg Ansett and their ilk. These people knew the value of taking the employees along with them, providing a value for money customer experience, and growing when it made sense, not simply for market share. Airlines do not need accountants and lawyers running them, or people who have not done their time at the coal face of a big airline, because they’re the ones that try to pull off sleazy tricks like this.
    United slipped up and demonstrated just how underhanded and devious they were prepared to be on one hand, while the other hand was in the taxpayers’ pocket… and they should be held to account accordingly.

  21. Typical. Also know that just as the effects of Covid took hold earlier this year and the corporate wailing began to increase in both frequency and intensity, a search of system wide job opportunities yielded the usual mix of positions worldwide, the overwhelming majority being unionized. Not very long afterwards- days even, another search revealed nada- not one position was to be found. Not even in the always needy Hub stations. Ok so I guess they really are hurting like they say they are….go to shutdown laptop on the top of my lap and got a pang of suspicion causing me to check one more time. Union positions still gone but now there’s all kinds of non-union positions showing up at random airports throughout the system. Soon after, with bailout money in hand and after promising the gubmint no firings or layoffs would occur- they inform the workers both full-time and part-time: that hours are to be slashed in half across the board and that they are fully within their rights to do so. Next day the union filles suit in federal court and the plan is shelved……..with the company still carping about how they were within their rights to do so….fakas.

  22. United meant the error was to post these posting publicly. Now United will just contract an Indian agency to take care of everything.

  23. unfortunately, this blog has turned into a racist white supremacism hotspot to practice racism toward people of color and Semitic nations,

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