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Airline Industry Leaders Give Students Perspective on Labor-Management Relations

Wendy Morse and Glenn Tilton shared perspectives on labor-management relations in the airline industry as part of a Negotiations and Labor Relations course at GWSB.

Can labor and management find common ground in the airline industry? GWSB students heard first-hand perspectives from two labor and management leaders for the airline industry who spoke about the challenges of labor-management relations arising from industry volatility, a failed employee stock ownership plan, massive financial and operational restructuring and large-scale mergers.

Captain Wendy Morse, chairman of the United Master Executive Council of the Air Line Pilots Association, and Glenn Tilton, chairman of United Continental Holdings, Inc.’s board of directors, spoke to students Oct. 18. as part of Patrick McHugh’s Negotiations and Labor Relations course.

Tilton served as chairman, president, and CEO of UAL Corporation, and chairman and CEO of United Airlines from 2002, guiding the company to profitability and successfully completed a recent merger between United and Continental Airlines involving more than 80,000 employees.

Captain Morse has been a pilot at United Airlines since 1985 and served in several positions with the Air Line Pilots Association. The Master Executive Council represents 7,500 active and furloughed United pilots.  She was the first woman elected to her position as Master Executive Council Chairman. In her role, she also is a member of the United Continental Holdings, Inc. board of directors. Morse is also the proud parent of William Morse, a Master of Tourism Administration student at the GW School of Business.

“It was a great for students to see labor and management leaders sitting next to each other and sharing their insights and experiences,” said McHugh, associate professor of management. “The speakers made excellent connections between business operations and collective bargaining.  During the discussion it was apparent that each had a different perspective on several issues, but they both acknowledged that they share a desire for sustainable company profitability, that neither side wants to see a strike, and that they can agree to disagree and still have a productive relationship.”

“I also found it interesting that they seemed to be very open with each other, and have a nice element of trust between the two.  It has totally changed my view of how I thought both groups (labor and management) interacted,” PMBA student Tara Ferdows said.

Posted by gwsb on October 21, 2010 | Filed under: GWSB News.

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