In late February a lot of companies cut ties with the NRA, following the Parkland tragedy. This came after companies that were associated in any way with the NRA got bombarded on social media with requests to cut ties with the organization.
This even impacted some major US airlines that offered discounts for those traveling to NRA conferences. Presumably the intent of these discounts wasn’t political as such. Companies offer discounts for volume all the time, though they sometimes shy away from controversial organizations.
The challenge here was that being associated with the NRA suddenly became more controversial. I’m not quite sure that I get why it suddenly became controversial, because I feel like not a whole lot has changed. I guess it’s that gun control is finally becoming more of a consistent topic of national conversation, rather than something we only talk about in the days following a tragedy, and then largely seem to forget about.
Delta was one of the airlines that announced they’d cut ties with the NRA. They said that they had a neutral stance in the national debate over gun control, and that they support the 2nd Amendment. However, they said that they don’t partner with controversial organizations, and that this was why they were cutting ties.
This ended up backfiring for Delta, as Republican lawmakers in Georgia repealed a tax break for Delta that could have saved them up to $50 million. In reality, it was later revealed that only 13 people had ever taken advantage of that discount. Ouch.
At United’s annual shareholders meeting today, the topic of gun control came up, and specifically about United’s decision to cut ties with the NRA. Bloomberg reports that an attendee confronted United CEO Oscar Munoz about United’s decision to cut ties with the NRA:
The shooter wasn’t affiliated with the NRA, the questioner said, “But hey, congratulations on your liberal virtue-signaling.”
How did Oscar Munoz respond?
“Sir, it wasn’t political,” Munoz responded. “It was personal with regard to my family at United.”
For Munoz, the tragedy hit home because one of the 17 people killed in the Florida massacre, Gina Rose Montalto, was the teenage daughter of a United captain.
“That’s why we made the decision,” Munoz said. “We aren’t here to make political conversation or strike political debate. We’re here to serve customers.”
I’m not actually sure what Munoz was going for. What exactly is a “personal” decision for a company with 90,000 people? The way I see it, taking a stance on something like this is inherently a political decision. In my opinion it’s not necessarily wrong to send a message like that. But it’s not like the NRA changed overnight — they’ve had the same stance on things for a long time, and I think it’s hard to argue that this is anything but a political move (which, again, I think is fine, and I think is sometimes the right thing to do).
So while I don’t think it was appropriate to bring this up at the shareholders meeting, I’m also not exactly sure I know what Munoz meant with his response.
Can anyone make more sense of Munoz’s response here?