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United Air CEO grilled over NRA discount, workers rights at annual meeting

FILE PHOTO: Oscar Munoz CEO of United Airlines discusses his vision for the company in Chicago

FILE PHOTO: Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, discusses his vision for the company, in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 21, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

By Alana Wise

CHICAGO (Reuters) – United Airlines executives faced questions about ending its discount for a gun rights group and how it treats its workers at the carrier’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday.

Asked about United’s decision to sever ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the wake of the recent U.S. high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Chief Executive Oscar Munoz said the decision was reached largely in response to a United pilot’s daughter who was killed in the massacre.

United was one of several companies, including rival Delta Air Lines Inc, to end its relationship with the NRA after the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 students and staff members dead.

“We aren’t here to strike political debate… It wasn’t political. It was personal in regards to my family at United,” Munoz said.

Munoz was also grilled over what some employees described as the “second-class citizen” treatment of workers attempting to unionize.

“How is it that we work for a multi-billion dollar company, and we can’t even afford an apartment on our own?” one woman, who identified herself as an employee at the carrier’s Denver hub, said.

Munoz defended the carrier to say United pays competitively, and pushed back on accusations of managerial mistreatment of employees amid unionization efforts.

The shareholders meeting comes as executive and board shakeups have put United in the spotlight in recent weeks.

Thee carrier’s chief financial officer, Andrew Levy, announced his resignation last week, stoking rumors of executive turmoil at the airline. And last month, board Chairman Robert Milton and director Laurence Simmons announced their resignations.

The board will meet over the next two days to elect a new director. The carrier said it is looking for a permanent replacement for the CFO role.

(Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

 

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