After some lean years during the recession, airlines have come roaring back with healthy profits in the first and second quarters of this year.

But they are continuing to cut back on costs, and the latest example is United Airlines.

A memo went out from United President Jeff Smisek on Thursday.

It told many United employees, that their jobs were being outsourced. This includes airport workers - baggage porters, janitors, cabin cleaners, plane fuelers, mechanics, gate agents, wheelchair assistance and even some pilots - have seen their jobs contracted out or wages sink.

The contractors will work for less than the current employees.

The airports involved include Denver, Salt Lake City, Charlotte, Pensacola, Detroit and Des Moines.

The advocacy group Flyers Rights says, this will mean delays.

And in their view, compromises on service.

The job cuts take effect October First.

Here is a copy of the memo…


When it comes to running a safe, reliable and profitable operation, it's important that we manage our staffing efficiently. If we're under staffed, we can't run our operation well. If we're over staffed, we're not managing our costs responsibly. Our staffing levels fluctuate to match our flight schedule, which, as you are seeing from our schedule announcements, includes more seasonal changes than in the past.

We review our staffing on an ongoing basis taking into account not only changes in flight schedules, but also new approaches and technologies together with efficiencies we've realized by the merger of workforces and the implementation of joint collective bargaining agreements. Sometimes we're able to absorb small staffing overages with other work, and we look to do that when we can. However, looking ahead to this Fall, we have determined that we need to reduce staffing at some of our hubs and stations, effective with the change to our winter schedule on October 1, 2014.

These staffing adjustments include reducing below-the-wing staffing at our hubs in EWR, ORD and SFO as well as above- and below-the-wing at some of our line stations, all effective Oct. 1, 2014. About half of these adjustments overall involve full to part-time moves. While most of these are seasonal schedule adjustments, we are also making some non-seasonal staffing adjustments. Separately, we are adjusting staffing levels in BOS as a result of completing the integration of our separate operations there into one.

Airlines have long had reductions-in-force from time to time. It's how we make seasonal and structural adjustments to competitively staff our operations. As I said earlier, there are times when we are able to manage seasonal staffing overages, but the current numbers are not manageable. While we're accustomed to these RIFs, they are always difficult. Employees affected by these reductions, including moving from full to part-time, will receive notice either by mail or in-person over the next several days.

Over the past several months, we've introduced both broad and targeted early out programs related to our schedule and staffing changes in CLE and the transfer of work to outside vendors at 12 line stations. At the same time, we've worked with the IAM to bring positions in house in our DEN and IAD hubs as well as in PHX and, recently, HNL.

Along these lines, we announced at DEN yesterday that we're making further changes by bringing in-house below-the-wing positions for our regional transfer of baggage (TOB) operation there. At the same time, we are moving our DEN de-icing operation to a vendor who will be dedicated to the United operation, both mainline and regional, and can flex up and down based on weather-related needs. These moves will not result in a net loss of jobs, nor any changes in pay, for our DEN employees, and we expect to improve our MBR and customer service by performing this work more efficiently.

We realize that there have been a number of staffing changes, both in-house and out to vendors. A number of employees' lives have been affected by these, and we take this into account when we make these decisions. Please know that we are continually looking to create opportunities while taking the steps we have to in order to be competitive.

Last week, we announced our second-quarter results, which were a marked improvement from the first quarter. We want to continue to be profitable and have a sustainable business with a bright future. While we have a way to go, we are making progress. We hope that we can create further opportunities in the future, while making the difficult decisions today.

Thanks to each and every one of you for the great work you've done this summer. Our on-time performance, our MBR performance, our Customer Satisfaction scores and our financial performance are all moving in the right direction, and you should take pride-and credit-for that.