Thursday, December 23, 2004

"Horizon Air Collectable Fine China, My Christmas Bonus"

Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer spots a Christmas bonus on eBay:
You are bidding on my Christmas Bonus!

I am an Aircraft Mechanic, and the company I work for, Horizon Airlines, has blessed me this year with a wonderful Collectable coffee mug. It is made of Fine China. I know this to be true, because when I turn it over, it says china, in fine letters. It is adorned with printed images celebrating our sacrifices to the Company, thanking us for our hard work at the Company, and even takes credit for our skill and knowledge.

It comes with 1 piece of chocolate candy wrapped in golden foil. The cup originally came with 5 pieces of chocolate candy wrapped in golden foil, but my kids ate 4 pieces before I could stop them. I know this diminishes the overall value of this excellent Christmas gift. However, the included unopened chocolate covered graham cracker cookie certainly overshadows the loss of the 4 golden foil wrapped chocolate candies. The Crowning Glory of this Testament to the Spirit of Giving is the tea bag. Yes folks, Horizon Air pulled out all the stops when they ensured we had something to actually drink from the cup of Fine China.

One single teabag. The movie Christmas Vacation was based around the fact that Ed Griswold only received a "Jelly of the Month" club membership from his boss. I got a teabag.

You see, when a Company like Horizon Air makes a little less than a BILLION dollars a year in revenue, we understand that a ham, turkey, or even a 7-11 gift certificate could potentially wipe out a Director or VP Holiday bonus, resulting in Christmas Tree Chaos. Therefore we do without. Year after year we are snubbed with $5 Blockbuster gift cards, to unsellable, poorly written, meaningless books about the Airline itself. The Mechanics at Horizon Air have had no raises in years, but thankfully the raises and bonuses never end for our upper management. The Spirit of Giving lives on at Horizon Air, except for those that make the airline great.

In the mean time, my kids want a Playstation 2 from Santa. I thought they could make up a clever sign, stand near a Freeway on ramp, and hold out the fine china cup to be filled with the Spirit of Christmas by total strangers. But there was someone already there, so I decided to sell this priceless Fine China cup to the highest bidder.

Before I forget, there is also a generic card thanking us for something (I was so overwhelmed with the Joy of Giving I couldn't read it) signed by the very upper management personnel that got their bonuses and raises yet made no sacrifice at all. You will also get hours of enjoyment through out the years hand washing this Fine China, because it is not dishwasher safe. You may also display this unusual piece of art for viewing each and every night, due to the fact that direct sunlight will damage and fade the intricate cut and paste designs embossed on this Fine China, it should not see the light of day. I will ship this wonderful piece of Fine China in UV protected packing material to ensure no sunlight damage occurs.

Let the bidding begin

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category%&item770539257&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW
Unfortunately, if you click on the link above, you'll get the following notice from eBay:
Invalid Item
This listing () has been removed by eBay. Make sure that you've entered the item number correctly.

Please consider this listing and transaction as cancelled. If anybody contacts you to complete the sale, please ignore the request. Completing the sale outside of eBay may be unsafe and will not be covered by eBay purchase protection programs.
Before eBay removed the item probably in corporate solidarity with Horizon Air, the good mechanic made the business and technology section of the Seattle Times:
Turning a token of corporate gratitude into a symbol of disgruntlement, a Horizon Air worker is auctioning on eBay a mug the company gave him last week.

Painted with the words "Thanks for all your hard work in 2004," the mug and its contents were not thanks enough for the mechanic trying to sell it anonymously at a starting bid of $100.

"The mechanics at Horizon Air have had no raises in years, but thankfully the raises and bonuses never end for our upper management," the seller writes sarcastically in a diatribe accompanying a photo of the mug on eBay.

Alaska Air Group, which runs the regional airline as well as Alaska Airlines, recently granted its top executives restricted stock units that vest in November 2007 and would be worth about $1.5 million based on yesterday's closing share price of $32.30. Jeff Pinneo, who runs Horizon, received restricted stock units worth $157,301 by that measure.

In an effort to cut costs by more than $300 million, Alaska Air Group has announced the layoff of hundreds of workers. Mechanics at Horizon, among the lowest-paid in the industry, have been in contract talks with the airline for nearly two years, including mediation since August.

"[M]y kids want a PlayStation 2 from Santa," the mechanic writes on eBay. "I thought they could make up a clever sign, stand near a Freeway on ramp, and hold out the fine china cup to be filled with the Spirit of Christmas by total strangers. But there was someone already there, so I decided to sell this priceless Fine China cup to the highest bidder."

The mechanic is certain that the mug, which he tagged online as "Horizon Air Collectable Fine China, My Christmas Bonus," is indeed fine china, he writes, "because when I turn it over, it says china, in fine letters."

"It's hilarious," Eric Weeks, president of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association Local 14 in Seattle, said of the posting. "It summarizes in a very succinct way the feeling of the value that the technicians' company places on them."

A spokeswoman for Horizon said the mugs, given to all of the airline's roughly 3,800 employees, were intended as thank-you gifts, not Christmas bonuses.

As for the auction, the spokeswoman, Jen McSkimming, said, "We're aware of it, but we haven't really paid much attention to it."

One of the two people bidding for the mug yesterday afternoon was someone calling himself "mrjeffpinneo."

McSkimming said the bidder is not the Jeff Pinneo who runs Horizon Air. (emphasis added, Melissa Allison, "Horizon Air Worker Vents on eBay," Seattle Times, December 23, 2004)
Alaska Airlines' pilots, who have been forced to negotiate with the company for 18 months and whose contract expired on December 15, 2004, must be feeling the same way as the anonymous mechanic, as the company is determined to cut costs by reducing their wages and benefits and raising productivity at the same time (Steve Wilhelm, "Crucial Flight Plan: Alaska Air Execs Must Cut $170M," Puget Sound Business Journal, December 12, 2004).

What about customers and other workers?
Alaska also is initiating a series of other cost-cutting moves, as management tries to ratchet the company down from its current 8 cents an available seat mile to the 7.25 cents goal.

Among those moves is trimming amenities, such as meals for passengers.

As a strategy, the company has been analyzing and ranking the factors that attract customers, as it experiments with shedding some amenities that seem less important. As a trial, the company has been charging $5 for meals on Mexico flights, a change that may spread to more of the routes.

"While customers like meals, they won't pay us extra for them, and they wouldn't decide to fly on us because we offer a meal," Ayer said. "We can't afford to offer things that don't get a return."

The company also is experimenting with finding new ways to move passengers more quickly through airports. Alaska was the first company to develop check-in kiosks at airports and to allow check-in via the Internet, and the company is now considering new options such as getting rid of ticket counters entirely. (Wilhelm, December 12, 2004)
Update:

The anonymous Horizon Air mechanic's Christmas bonus is back on eBay, and you can now see photographs of it: e.g.,
Horizon Air Collectable Fine China, My Christmas Bonus
The current bid is US $354.00, as of December 24, 2004, 5:50 PM.

1 comment:

Flydaddy said...

The mug also made it onto The Tonight Show's 'Things We Found on eBay' segment!