United Airlines Executives Realized Bonus Lottery Was a Bad Idea

United Airlines

The new program, which has caused massive unrest among the employees, was announced via a memo last Friday by the President Scott Kirby.

United announced to employees March 2 that the company planned to change its company-wide employee bonuses from a quarterly payment (of up to $375) based on the airline meeting operational goals to a quarterly lottery system, in which only employees with a flawless attendance record could participate.

Kirby originally announced the new lottery-style system - called "core4 Score Rewards" - in a note to workers late last week, according to employees and union officials.

The response on social media and internal corporate message boards was swift and angry, with commentary recorded from a range of United employees pointing out flaws and inequities in the new program. Instead, it would pay $100,000 to one employee selected at random and smaller bonuses of $2,000 or $5,000 in cash, vacations, or prizes to about 1,300 or more.

The dust-up over the bonus lottery showed that United is struggling to overcome a legacy of poor labor relations since its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines. Now, in the quarters that the airline reaches its performance goals, employees who have ideal attendance that quarter will be entered into the lottery.

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However, the new prize program has reportedly enraged United Airlines' employees as it implies that team efforts will not be recognized and only one employee determined by a drawing will receive the $100,000 prize.

"They took away our quarterly incentive bonuses, and changed it to a deplorable new system that only rewards an elite few", said the petition. The bonuses were given to United's 24,000 flight attendants, its pilots and gate agents, and others, she said.

"I can't imagine driving the Mercedes into the employee lot while everyone around me that worked just as hard, or harder got nothing", one flight attendant wrote. "While we were surprised by some of the components of the program, there is no part of the reaction by flight attendants and other employees that surprises us".

The carrier employs about 88,000 people around the world. "We're going to pause this and make sure we gather employee feedback to create a program that excites our employees to continue running a great operation". A United spokesperson would not say exactly how many employees complained about the change, but did say that it was a "significant enough number".

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