United's Eco Warrior - United Hub

United’s eco warrior

By Matt Adams

Environmental Strategy and Sustainability Manager Aaron Stash could be forgiven for having an indulgence or two; after all, he is one of the driving forces behind United's pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent over the next 30 years. Surely doing that much good on a global scale cancels out, say, owning a gas-guzzling sports car or leaving the faucet running while he brushes his teeth.

Aaron isn't that kind of guy, though. He's the real deal, with a real respect for the earth and its bounty. That's especially evident when he talks about creating a lasting culture of sustainability at United. But if you need proof of just how far he'll go in personally walking the walk, how's this? He lives in a custom-built, eco-friendly home.

"When my wife and I had the opportunity to build a house, we decided to build one that was certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum," Aaron said. "Over the course of two plus years, every waking hour when I wasn't working was devoted to planning what the house was going to look like, what we were going to put into it, and how we were going to do it on a budget."

The home, located just north of Chicago, contains energy-efficient appliances, low-flow faucets and fixtures, LED lighting and enough insulation to maintain a comfortable interior temperature without the constant need for heating or air conditioning. Soon, the Stashes will add 39 solar panels to their roof, enough to generate roughly 16,000 kilowatts a year to power the residence. When they tore down the home that previously sat on their lot, Aaron and his wife even recycled the bricks and other usable building materials.

Seeing the project to completion gave Aaron a tremendous sense of accomplishment, but after moving into the house in 2014, he yearned to do more.

"I was in marketing communications at that time, but I started wondering what United was doing about sustainability," he said.

He soon found that, even then, we were a leader in that space. When Aaron interviewed the Environmental Affairs manager for details about her team's work, she mentioned to him that she had accepted a new job and that her current one would soon be available. Two weeks later, Aaron had it.

Since then, he's had a hand in a number of projects, including the "Shedd the Straw" campaign, in partnership with Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, that rid our airplanes of non-biodegradable straws and stir sticks. He also developed our relationship with Clean the World, the organization that takes our unused amenity kit items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap that would have otherwise been thrown away, and donates them to relief aid charities. That alone diverts as much as 50,000 pounds of material from landfills each year.

Most importantly, Aaron and his team have worked hard on substituting traditional jet fuel with clean, sustainable biofuels produced from waste byproducts to cut carbon emissions. United is currently the only U.S. carrier using a biofuel blend on daily flights, with plans to purchase another 1 billion gallons of biofuels going forward.

"Oftentimes, people don't think about what's coming out of our engines and how that makes the biggest environmental impact," he said. "They want to know if we recycle our cans or not, which we do, but you can't forget about the bigger issue."

Since 1990, we have cut aircraft emissions by 45 percent thanks to biofuels, more fuel-efficient planes and a number of operational and technological improvements. As a result, United now has the smallest gross carbon footprint of the "big three" U.S. airlines, beating Delta (DL) and American (AA). Outside of parking our jets and not flying at all, we're doing everything possible to minimize our greenhouse gas output.

"We're using all the tools and technology currently at our disposal to reduce fuel burn, and we're looking into things we can do for the future," said Aaron. "Our actions today will have a ripple effect in the years to come. Hopefully, history will judge us well."

Celebrating immigration perspectives and diverse journeys

By The Hub team, September 25, 2020

From Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, the U.S. celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, a chance to pay tribute to the history, culture and contributions that generations of Latinxs have paved to enrich U.S. history. It is also a reminder to celebrate our differences and spark difficult, yet important, conversations.

To kick off the month, UNITE, our multicultural business resource group for employees, did just that by hosting a panel discussion about the immigrant experience and what it means to be an immigrant in the U.S.

United Litigation and Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, who is a pro bono immigration attorney, moderated the panel, and was joined by Ashley Huebner, Associate Director of Legal Services at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) and Magdalena Gonzalez, Program Manager, Leadership Development Programs at Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement. The three women shared their insights and personal stories, while addressing some misconceptions and highlighting the contributions of immigrants to our company and country.

Participants' headshots from United's Hispanic Heritage Month Panel From left to right, Elizabeth Lopez, Ashely Huebner and Magdalena Gonzalez

"I started to notice that there were things I was scared of doing, that I needed to be cautious," said Magdalena while sharing her personal experience as a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipient. "My friends, who a majority of them are citizens, did not need to worry about that. As I was able to see that, I realized that, 'oh, there's so many things that revolve around not just being a DACA recipient but revolve around being a person with an undocumented status here in the United States.'"

United maintains a close relationship with the NIJC. In May of 2019, United co-hosted an asylum clinic put on by the legal services organization, where several attorneys and legal professionals were trained on representing asylum-seeking applicants. At the end of the clinic, members of our legal department were assigned an asylum case through the NIJC.

Litigation Managing Counsel Elizabeth Lopez, Commercial Transactions Counsel Tiffany Jaspers, Global Compliance and Ethics Counsel Nancy Jacobson and Employment Litigation Senior Manager Dorothy Karpierz were partnered with attorneys from the law firm of McDermott Will & Emery to take on an immigration case of a mother of three from Honduras. Recently, after a years-long court battle, the legal team was victorious, changing the life of the woman and her family.

United is committed to connecting people and uniting the world. Whether you're an immigrant, a child of immigrants or simply want to learn more about the immigrant experience in the U.S., discussions like these, related to this hot-button issue, are important to have in order to understand the human lives behind it.

Make your voice heard

By Brett J. Hart, September 22, 2020

Your voice matters. Voting is one of the most influential civic activities we can engage in as Americans. At United, our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. That's why we've long provided our employees with resources to help them get registered to vote.

This year, we're taking our support a step further as the official airline of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD). Since the start of the pandemic, we've overhauled our cleaning measures through a program we call United CleanPlusSM , and the CPD has placed their trust in United to fly Commission production staff to each of the four debates, starting with the first one on September 29, hosted by Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University.

Today, on National Voter Registration Day, we also want to make sure our customers have access to information about how to participate in the 2020 Election. Over the past several months, you've heard a lot from us about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed air travel. We've learned that with some planning and extra effort, it's still possible — and safe. That's true of voting, too.

No matter which party you support or how you're planning to vote, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and make a plan to vote.

Best,

Brett J. Hart
President
United Airlines

United named to Year Up Opportunity Hall of Fame

By The Hub team, September 17, 2020

Since its launch 20 years ago, Year Up, one of our critical needs grant recipients, has helped more than 10,000 young adults gain access to corporate business and technical experience at large companies like United while offering the invaluable perspectives they bring with them.

On Wednesday, the nonprofit inducted United into its Opportunity Hall of Fame – a selection that occurs once every five years.

Year Up's mission is to help close the opportunity divide by providing urban young adults with the skills, experience and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. Since 2018, our partnership has allowed talented student learners the opportunity to gain corporate business experience and technical skill training at the airline while bringing their unique perspectives to our United family and culture. One of those students is Emily Lopez, who graduated from the Year Up program in January 2019 and was hired to be part of the United family as an analyst in Revenue Management.

"I moved from Venezuela to the United States in July 2016 and being a young immigrant with no resources can be difficult to pursue a career in a new country," said Emily.

After learning about Year Up and ultimately being accepted into the program, Emily landed an internship with United, an opportunity she is very grateful for.

Emily Lopez - Analyst, Pricing & Revenue Management

"Feedback from my mentors, coaches and managers was key during my internship phase and helped me convert my internship at United to a full-time position. I am grateful for the opportunity United has provided me and my Year Up Alumni colleagues to keep building a professional career within the company. I am so excited to continue building a professional career with the company and to see United being inducted to Year Up's Hall of Fame. Let's continue closing the opportunity divide!" said Emily.

Although the coronavirus pandemic has made this year's partnership a bit more difficult, we continue to do our part to support the Year Up student learners. Last month, we surprised 145 graduates of this year's Year Up Chicago program with roundtrip tickets to pursue career and networking opportunities within the United States.

"I've been personally honored and inspired to be an advocate for Year Up since I joined United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "This program gives young people from challenged backgrounds an opportunity to get their foot in the door as interns at United. This year's graduates are entering a challenging job landscape, but we have one thing that can help: a route network that provides easy access to major business markets across the United States."

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