Celebrating 50 Years of Service to Guam - United Hub

Celebrating 50 years of service to Guam

By Pete Rapalus, May 23, 2018

If you want to explore the rich history of our operations in Micronesia, you don't need to visit a museum. All you need to do is drop by the airport or book a flight out of Guam International Airport and you're likely to run into at least a few of our employees who have been there almost since the beginning and are still adding to the operation's legacy every day.

Guam employees at the 50th celebration.

In Guam, we have more than 850 employees, and nearly half already have a quarter-century or more of service to our airline. Seventeen of them have 40 or more years. On the other islands in the region, out of a total of 166 employees, 14 have 25 or more years of service, and 58 have 10 years or more.

"We each have 29 years now, but sometimes we feel like the new kids on the block," laughed Lead Customer Service Representative Drin Nestor as she offered customers special 50th anniversary treats at the United Club, alongside Customer Service Representative Esther Kikku. "For me, it's been 29 fabulous years."

Lead Line Technician Justin Rdiall was just 24 when he got his technician's license and joined what was then Air Micronesia, which at the time had but one jet aircraft, a Boeing 727. "It's amazing to me how much has changed," Justin said. "Now, at age 71, I'm proud to say that I've spent more than half of my life at this airline. I'm so appreciative to United and to all of my fellow employees I've worked with over the years."

Celebrating 50 years of service to Guam at the International Airport

Justin was one of the Guam-based employees with at least 45 years of service who were honored May 16 with a crystal trophy and a seat of honor at a luncheon hosted by EVP and Chief Operations Officer Greg Hart. Greg is also an alumnus of the Micronesia operation, having started his career at Guam Airport in the late 1990s.

The following day, May 17, Greg hosted a town hall meeting for Guam-based employees, and at one point asked everyone with at least 10 years of service to raise their hands – nearly the entire audience did so. Greg told them what he also said many times to employees while walking through the airport, offices, cargo facility, hangar and warehouse the previous day:

"The airline we are today could not exist if it weren't for the contributions you all made," Greg noted. Also, while discussing the core4 principle of caring, he told them that, "You know all about delivering great customer service. You know that just taking a second to smile makes all the difference in the world to our customers. Those little things make a huge difference."

In addition to the lunch and crystal trophies, our eight honorees also received the same gifts that leaders handed out to every employee -- a commemorative gift bag including a sun visor, lapel pin and key chain. Throughout the operation during the week, a festive atmosphere prevailed, and on May 18 a large group of employees spent two hours in the afternoon rush hour alongside the main airport access road to thank their local customers with waves, banners and flags. The celebrations wrapped up on Guam with a big beach picnic for employees and their families.

Guam employees along the main airport entrance waving at local customers.

To reach our Micronesia employees beyond Guam, Regional Airport Operations Director Art Day thanked them all in a message:

"Each of you should be very proud of our history and the contributions we have made to the local communities we service throughout the region," he told them. "It's hard to imagine what Micronesia would be like today without the service we as a company and each of you individually have provided for the last 50 years."

To recognize their contributions in person, we are taking the 50th anniversary celebration on tour later this summer, with employee events on KSA (Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia); KWA (Kwajalein, Marshall Islands); MAJ (Majuro, Marshall Islands); PNI (Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia); ROR (Palau, Republic of Palau); TKK (Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia); and YAP (Yap, Federated States of Micronesia).

Hafa adai and here's to another 50 years!

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

Jessica Kimbrough named Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

By The Hub team, July 10, 2020

Jessica Kimbrough, currently Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, will take on the new role of Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Managing Director.

Jessica assumes this new and expanded position to focus on global inclusion and equity as part of our enhanced commitment to ensure best practices across the business to strengthen our culture.

In this role, Jessica will be responsible for helping United redefine our efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion – ensuring that our programs and approach are strategic, integrated and outcome-oriented, while we continue to build a culture that reflects our core values. She will report to Human Resources and Labor Relations EVP Kate Gebo.

"Jessica's appointment to this role is another critical step our executive team is taking to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion remains a top priority at United," said CEO Scott Kirby. "Given her drive, experience and commitment to champion collaboration and allyship among our employee business resource groups, she is uniquely qualified to take on this position and I look forward to working closely with her."

As Labor Relations and Legal Strategy Managing Director, Jessica worked closely with senior management to create and maintain positive labor relations among our unionized workforce, providing counsel on labor litigation, negotiations, contract administration, organizing issues and managing attorneys who represent United in labor relations. Previously, she served as Labor and Employment Counsel in our legal department.

Jessica has a passion for creating a pipeline of diverse lawyers and leaders, and was honored as one of Chicago Defender's "Women of Excellence" for excellence in her career and civic engagement in 2017. She currently serves as President of uIMPACT, our women's employee business resource group.

Jessica's new role is effective immediately.

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