I read with interest the Sept. 9 brief item “United Airlines ousts CEO” about the dismissal of Jeff Smisek in the midst of a scandal and federal investigation.
Although not yet a legal problem for his employer as the investigation is continuing, clearly Smisek has created a public relations and perception problem that will cost his former company millions.
Yet, his board is rewarding him for his poor judgment with a severance package in excess of $5 million. I am quite sure that there are many other United employees – baggage handlers, gate agents, reservation agents and so on – who are not even making what is now considered a minimum living wage of $15 per hour and must now work even harder to restore customer perception of a once proud company.
The United board should take the $5 million and ensure every employee earns at least a living wage. My guess is that investment would be more effective and sustainable than a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to repair the damaged reputation. And I’ll bet Smisek will be just fine.
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