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Sunday, 29 November, 2020

A Promise is a Promise

Date: 01 June, 2005

By: Chief

Imagenless you are United Airlines. Or any other corporation or company for that matter.

It is quite interesting that while we as citizens and, some of us, as parents have been taught and are teaching our children the value of commitment — if you say something you had bloody well better make good on it — the same cannot be said of the modern business. And most likely modern business schools as well.

I had better make this point first — I am not a fan of unions anymore than I am a fan of public corporations. Both stink as far as I am concerned. That said, I shall proceed.

Most folks by now know that United Airlines is in deep kim chee. In fact they are in the middle of a very messy bankruptcy. The airline claims that it needs umpteen millions in concessions from its roster of current employees and that it cannot pay the pensions it already owes to its former — now retired — employees. United further claims that if it does not get the concessions it claims it needs, it maybe forced to close its doors. And United said all this stuff in front of a bankruptcy judge.

Well ain't that just Jim-Dandy.

It is bad enough that United fully intends to renege on its existing labor agreements with its current employees. What is truly awful, actually beyond the pale, is that United has given the single digit salute to its former employees. Those who have retired from the company.

Allow me to explain. Joe Employee signs on with United. Joe works for United for decades. Until, at last, Joe can retire. Joe contributes some of his pay into the company retirement fund. The company, in turn, contributes to Joe's retirement fund as well. Joe, who put in 20, 30 or more years — in good faith — now retires, fully expecting that he will be able to enjoy the benefits of his years (decades) of labor. Remember, Joe and United made a commitment. If Joe does 'X', United shall do 'Y'. What Joe did not realize was that the commitment made by United was only good if United felt like following through with it. United just reneged on Joe.

Not only that, but now the entire United Airline pension liability is going to get transfered from United, the company who is — or should I say was — responsible for the pension of Joe Employee, to the federal government. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation or PBGC for short to be be exact. Well guess what folks? We, as in the taxpayers of the United States, are a fixing to pick up the tab that United Airlines and other corporations such as Bethlehem Steel and now Kaiser Permanente, have reneged on or, as in the case of Kaiser, are trying something fierce to renege on.

What a crock of crap.

Why in the Sam Thump should you or I pay for Joe Employee's pension? The answer is we should not. Period. It is absolutely inexcusable for a company to make a commitment, the promise, and then say 'up yours employee'. Further, to add insult to injury, the same company says 'up yours' to us, the citizens of the United States and taxpayers as well.

Oh, I thought I would save the real good news for last. The PBGC does not have the money to take over the liabilities. That does not mean that we, as taxpayers, are off the hook. Not in the least. No, the PBGC will go back to congress hat in hand, tears flowing like a river, requesting more money. Congress will not, in anyway, say no. So we taxpayers are going to get screwed, with non-skid, not Vaseline, and take over the pensions that these mighty corporations have walked away from.

Will Joe Employee get his entire pension amount that he worked for? Most likely not. He will get a percentage. How much? I have no clue. But it is highly doubtful that Joe would get what he was promised. What he worked for. What he and United agreed to.

What can be done? Well for Joe Employee and the others like him, not much of anything. The companies, on the other hand, now that is a different kettle of fish. United can sell off assets, sell off routes, lease routes, lease maintenance facilities, lease luggage handling space, lease aircraft and so on. That would be to pay the pensions that are owed. What United owes to other creditors, well, that is between United and the creditors. People come first. The executives could possibly be criminally charged with fraud. I would not in the least lose any sleep if that should come to pass.

As it currently stands the retired employees are going to lose and the taxpayers are going to lose. United Airlines, the corporation, is going to win. That is how it is. It is not at all right, proper or moral.

Break the promise to the people, the employees, in order to protect the company is not my way of doing business.

It sounds to me like United and their scurvy dog lawyers took a chapter out of the Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love. What chapter is that you ask? 'The Promise'. For those of you who have never read the book or heard of the Sweet Potato Queens (you are really missing out — they are great!) the promise is what a woman tells a man in order to get the man to do whatever she wants. The promise itself is rarely, if ever, delivered. But just what is the promise? The promise is that if the man will do whatever the woman has asked, the woman, in turn, will give him a blow job.

Sorry Boss Queen (there is only one and she is appointed for life) and to all Queen Tammys (all other Sweet Potato Queens are named Tammy) but there is no other example I could think of which passes the test as well as the promise does. I hope y'all will forgive this humble spud, all guys are spuds, by the way.

In other words corporations and companies who make promises to their employees had better deliver — the promise.

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