These Eyes have Paws - United Hub
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These eyes have paws

By Matt Adams, June 08, 2017

On an otherwise normal morning in April, the hum of bustling travelers at Newark Liberty International Airport was joined by the jingle of leashes and the patter of paws as 90 puppies from counties in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania converged on the airport for a very important day of learning.

For two consecutive Saturdays each spring, groups of puppies – most of them between the ages of five and 18 months – travel to Newark Liberty International Airport with their foster families as part of their development as service dogs for the blind. The airport trip has been an annual event for 25 years and continues thanks to the support of United Airlines, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and The Seeing Eye, Inc., a Morristown, New Jersey, nonprofit that breeds and trains puppies to become certified Seeing Eye® dogs.

Since the 1980s, Seeing Eye volunteers Janet Keeler and Carmella Passaro have organized field trips such as this to help familiarize the dogs with the kinds of real-world situations that they will encounter once their training is complete and they are adopted by blind owners. Over the past 10 years, they have worked with NewarkAirport Station Operations Manager Maureen Briody to coordinate their visit to our terminal, which even includes a mock flight designed to give the puppies the experience of boarding a plane.

"This type of training is very important to the customers who will rely on these guide animals," Maureen said. "Not only do we expose the dogs to the sights, sounds and smells of the airport, we also teach the foster families and their support organizations what the puppies' future owners will need to know about traveling with service animals."

The puppies' day began at the Port Authority administration building, where they paraded past a fire rescue vehicle to get better acquainted with the noise and learn to avoid the spray of the water cannon. Next, they boarded buses to United's Terminal C and practiced navigating the concourse, baggage claim areas, the intra-airport monorail and the departure gates.

United Airport Operations Coordinator Jean Browne made gate announcements from the podium before the puppies boarded a United aircraft, giving them a realistic sense of the sounds associated with flying. The group then filed down the jetbridge and took their places on board, with the puppies sitting obediently underneath the seats in front of them. Once situated, Jean and retired United 787 Captain Peter Hernandez, who volunteered to serve as the day's honorary pilot, made "inflight announcements" over the public address system and talked with the foster families about things they should keep in mind while training the dogs for flying.

While it's true that this was a critical experience for the dogs, there was also a secondary benefit to hosting them at the airport: lots and lots of smiles. "The customers love it," Maureen said with a wide grin, "the kids especially; it just makes everyone happy when that long line of puppies goes past them. It's always fun to see people's reaction." Some of our employees, like Newark Airport Customer Service Representative Nanette Marques-Freitas, have themselves been moved to foster puppies for The Seeing Eye after witnessing the event.

"We fostered our first one, Dancer, last year, and we're waiting on a second puppy to begin fostering this year," Nanette said. "I'm hoping to give it a name in honor of United, maybe something like 'Polaris' or 'Ursa.' What do you think?"

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.

United Cargo and logistics partners keep critical medical shipments moving

By The Hub team, July 02, 2020

By working together and strengthening partnerships during these unprecedented times, our global community has overcome challenges and created solutions to keep the global supply chain moving. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt the shipping landscape, United and our industry partners have increasingly demonstrated our commitment to the mission of delivering critical medical supplies across the world.

United Cargo has partnered with DSV Air and Sea, a leading global logistics company, to transport important pharmaceutical materials to places all over the world. One of the items most critical during the current crisis is blood plasma.

Plasma is a fragile product that requires very careful handling. Frozen blood plasma must be kept at a very low, stable temperature of negative 20 degrees Celsius or less – no easy task considering it must be transported between trucks, warehouses and airplanes, all while moving through the climates of different countries. Fortunately, along with our well-developed operational procedures and oversight, temperature-controlled shipping containers from partners like va-Q-tec can help protect these sensitive blood plasma shipments from temperature changes.

A single TWINx shipping container from va-Q-tec can accommodate over 1,750 pounds of temperature-sensitive cargo. Every week, DSV delivers 20 TWINx containers, each one filled to capacity with human blood plasma, for loading onto a Boeing 787-9 for transport. The joint effort to move thousands of pounds of blood plasma demonstrates that despite the distance, challenges in moving temperature-sensitive cargo and COVID-19 obstacles, we continue to find creative solutions with the help of our strong partnerships.

United Cargo is proud to keep the commercial air bridges open between the U.S. and the rest of the world. Since March 19, we have operated over 3,200 cargo-only flights between six U.S. hubs and over 20 cities in Asia, Australia, Europe, South America, India, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Celebrating Juneteenth

By United Airlines, June 18, 2020

A message from UNITE, United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group

Fellow United team members –

Hello from the UNITE leadership team. While we communicate frequently with our 3,500 UNITE members, our platform doesn't typically extend to the entire United family, and we are grateful for the opportunity to share some of our thoughts with all of you.

Tomorrow is June 19. On this day in 1865, shortened long ago to "Juneteenth," Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and all enslaved individuals were free. For many in the African-American community, particularly in the South, it is recognized as the official date slavery ended in the United States.

Still, despite the end of slavery, the Constitutional promise that "All men are created equal" would overlook the nation's Black citizens for decades to come. It wasn't until nearly a century later that the Civil Rights Act (1964) ended legal segregation and the Voting Rights Act (1965) protected voting rights for Black Americans. But while the nation has made progress, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have made it undeniably clear that we still have a lot of work to do to achieve racial parity and inclusion.

Two weeks ago, Scott and Brett hosted a virtual town hall and set an important example by taking a minute, as Brett said, "to lower my guard, take off my armor, and just talk to you. And talk to you straight from the heart."

Difficult conversations about race and equity are easy to avoid. But everyone needs to have these conversations – speaking honestly, listening patiently and understanding that others' experiences may be different from your own while still a valid reflection of some part of the American experience.

To support you as you consider these conversations, we wanted to share some resources from one of United's partners, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum will host an all-day Virtual Juneteenth Celebration to recognize Juneteenth through presentations, stories, photographs and recipes. The museum also has a portal that United employees can access called Talking About Race, which provides tools and guidance for everyone to navigate conversations about race.

Our mission at UNITE is to foster an inclusive working environment for all of our employees. While we are hopeful and even encouraged by the widespread and diverse show of support for African Americans around the country – and at United - we encourage everyone to spend some time on Juneteenth reflecting on racial disparities that remain in our society and dedicating ourselves to the work that still must be done to fight systemic racism. By honoring how far we've come and honestly acknowledging how far we still must go, we believe United – and the incredible people who are the heart and soul of this airline - can play an important role in building a more fair and just world.

Thank you,

UNITE (United Airlines Multicultural Business Resource Group)

Leadership Team

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