United Airlines has reversed course on a plan to replace its
quarterly bonus program with a prize lottery because employees reacted angrily.
"Our intention was to introduce a better, more exciting
program, but we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you,"
United president Scott Kirby wrote in a memo to employees Monday. "So, we
are pressing the pause button on these changes to review your feedback and
consider the right way to move ahead. We will be reaching out to work groups
across the company, and the changes we make will better reflect your feedback."
The move comes three days after Kirby wrote a memo to
employees advising them of the plan to eliminate bonuses in favor of the lottery.
According to the Chicago Business Journal, which obtained a copy of the memo,
Kirby had said the lottery would include prizes ranging from cash to luxury
cars to vacations. One employee per quarter was to get a grand prize of
$100,000, provided United met various performance goals.
Under the existing program, United pays quarterly bonuses of up
$125, the airline said. United also has an employee profit-sharing
The announcement stoked outrage from airline employees. A
Change.org petition, posted by United flight attendant Laurie Vesalo, garnered
more than 1,100 signatures in less than a day before Vesalo reported that she
was told to take it down.
Vesalo referred to the proposed lottery as "a
deplorable new system that only rewards an elite few."