Will CEO's resignation mean better contract for United staffers? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Will CEO's resignation mean better contract for United staffers?

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The president and CEO of United Airlines, Jeff Smisek, resigned today in connection with a federal corruption probe. United serves as Guam's largest carrier, but the surprise development is not expected to impact local operations, although Guam-based flight attendants are hoping the change in leadership will have a positive impact on their longstanding bid for a new contract.  

In a news release posted to its website, United said Smisek stepped down "In connection with a federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey."  The company said the investigations are ongoing and it continues to cooperate with the government.

Smisek has been at the helm since United's merger with Continental Airlines in 2010. The company also announced he was replaced effective immediately by United board director Oscar Munoz. According to the news release, Munoz most recently served as president and COO of CSX Corporation, an international transportation company.

The release quotes Munoz as saying, "In my years serving on the board, I have been impressed by the dedication and skill of my new coworkers. Together, we will make United the top-performing airline."

Meanwhile, spokesperson for Guam-based flight attendants Cynthia Iverson said she was surprised by the announcement. But she also expressed cautious optimism that the change in leadership might help resolve contract negotiations that have been dragging on for months, telling KUAM News, "I know that he has a very successful background. I think Gordon Bethune has spoken up that he's a hard worker, and we're still looking to discover who he really is and what his credentials are, but yes, we are hopeful. We have been stagnant for three years in negotiations and we're hopeful that Mr. Munoz is going to light a fire under the company's side of the negotiations, so we're able to get this done."

To draw attention to their issues, the flight attendants staged an international day of action last month. Iverson says they plan a similar event for October.

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