United Airlines employees slam 'lottery' bonus plan

The prizes: The Business Journal saw the memo from United Airlines President Scott Kirby that outlines the "core4 Score Rewards" program.

Following swift backlash from employees, United Airlines has scrapped its plans to replace quarterly employee bonuses with a lottery-based employee reward system. Before the announcement about the lottery on Friday, a United spokesman told ABC News all eligible employees could receive up to $300 per quarter, or about $1500 a year.

"As we look to continue improving, we took a step back and chose to replace the quarterly operational bonus and ideal attendance programs with an exciting new rewards program called "core4 Score Rewards", Kirby wrote in the memo.

The airlines is eliminating its quarterly performance bonus system and has brought in an unconventional lottery system, which would include prizes like vacation, cars and cash among other gifts, reports Fortune Magazine. United Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fortune.

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The company noted a requirement for "perfect attendance" in order for employees to qualify for the bonus, which some employees took this to mean no sick days.

Under the lottery system, just 1,361 employees would receive bonuses, according to the United Airlines memo, and only one would be chosen for the top cash prize of $100,000.

The proposed lottery system - which offered prizes ranging from a Mercedes sedan to a one-person $100k payout - would've only affected 1,361 employees, and cost the company around $18m. The bonuses were given to United's 24,000 flight attendants, its pilots and gate agents, and others, she said. In one fell swoop, it is crushed again.

Kirby said Monday that United is now halting these changes to consider employee feedback, though he did not specify when the airline expects to have a decision about their next move.

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The rewards program also drew ire in more public social-media forms, with some taking to Twitter to question the logic behind it.

United employs almost 90,000 people.

According to United's latest earnings report, employees earned approximately $30 million in incentive payments for achieving operations performance goals in the fourth quarter ending in December, and approximately $87 million in earned bonuses in 2017. A United spokesperson did not say how many people complained about the change, but it was a "significant enough number".

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  • Kelly Blake