United pilots launch PR effort to nudge contract talks (Jami J.)

United Airlines pilots, upset at the sluggish pace of union contract negotiations, have hired public-relations professionals and launched a social media campaign to communicate with with passengers.

Pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, have launched a website, Twitter feed, Facebook page and YouTube channel in a campaign dubbed “the unfriendly skies.”

According to the website Politico, pilots hired Mark Fabiani, Chris Lehane and lobbyist Jon Yarowsky “in anticipation of mounting a campaign against United Airlines.” The three worked together in the Clinton White House. “The campaign, which was discussed in a recent labor meeting in Chicago, is scheduled to be launched in conjunction with the summer travel season,” Politico reported. It “will focus on the company’s off-shoring of flights and out-sourcing of pilot jobs.”

Pilots said they have been in contract negotiations for more than two years. In an open letter to customers Thursday, pilots said they are committed to communicating with travelers about the status of contract negotiations “and any developments that could impact your travel plans.”

Jeff Smisek, United CEO, said Thursday in a public appearance in Chicago, that the airline has made progress with all its unions and that the complicated contracts take time to negotiate. He repeated that the company will not agree to a contract unless it is fair to the company and  employees.

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About internalmarket

This blog and its accompanying Twitter account have been established as social media learning tools for the Internal Communications and Employee Engagement class at Columbia College Chicago. Through this blog, we will share our observations about current events, change management and employee communications theory, and the application of social media in shaping employee engagement.
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