Internal comms slip-up sinks United CEO

CHICAGO: An internal communications debacle looks to have been the

root cause of the resignation of James Goodwin, former CEO of United


Goodwin quit last week amid controversy surrounding an internal memo to

employees warning that the company was in danger of going under.

The International Association of Machinists and Aero-space Workers

reacted angrily to the letter, asking the company to fire Goodwin, and

accusing him of using scare tactics to force lower wages onto


"We are literally hemorrhaging money," Goodwin wrote in the letter,

which was obtained by the AP before it was distributed. "Clearly, this

bleeding has to be stopped - and soon - or United will perish sometime

next year."

The machinist union's president described the letter as "an alarmist

rant of a man who is clearly not up to the task of crisis


The Association of Flight Attendants called for Goodwin's


"It's just unthinkable that the press got hold of something like that

before it went to employees," said AFA spokesperson Dawn Deeks.

The memo was sent to senior managers before being sent out to the

employee population. Asked whether the memo had been leaked, Chris

Nardella, a United spokesperson said, "It's speculation."

Deeks said that not all employees, particularly aircraft crew, were able

to retrieve the letter from base airports while traveling. "It was very

poor communication. They all heard what Goodwin had written."

The new chairman and CEO, John Creighton, has already met with union

groups in an effort to ease tension. The Washington Post reported that

he has offered the unions access to the company's financial documents to

keep them informed about the continuing problems.

On Thursday, United announced a loss of $1.6 billion in the third

quarter, its worst in the company's history.

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