Congratulations on recognizing the success and mpportunity that United Airlines Inc. and the employee stock-ownership plan (ESOP) have created ("United we own," Cover Story, Mar. 18). Your article highlights many of the same points we stress with small companies establishing ESOPs. When you cut through it, however, it is good management, strong leadership, and good people that build strong companies. Shareholders and boards can, and should, only oversee, not implement.
Principal, The Management Team
As an unwilling participant in the United Airlines ESOP, I read your article with interest. Will the ESOP be a success? Time will tell. Meanwhile, many employees are doing a slow burn watching management cash in their stock options, becoming instant millionaires as the stock hit new highs recently. The rest of us can cash out only on the day we retire. If the stock is trading at $200 on Dec. 31, 2002, I'll have recouped my investment. But if it's trading at $30, where I've seen it many times during my 29 years, I'll be wiped out. For many of us, the ESOP, far from providing security, is more like a crapshoot.