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.”
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.
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) August 26, 2020
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.
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.