James Goodwin: This Is Ual's New Captain Speaking

It isn't every day that labor torpedoes a top exec's chances to take over the corner office. Then again, UAL, which will be 55%-owned by its unions in 2000, isn't your typical company. That's why James Goodwin, 54, is UAL's new president.

Goodwin, a 32-year veteran of United Airlines' parent who rose through the ranks to run UAL's international and then North American operations, was installed on Sept. 22 after President and CEO-in-waiting John Edwardson resigned abruptly on Sept. 18. Edwardson had clashed with the pilots' and mechanics' unions over issues ranging from pay hikes to a unionization drive for counter workers.

Union officials seem pleased with Goodwin. "The interaction the pilots have had with him have been quite positive," says pilots' union spokesman Madison Walton, noting that Goodwin recently helped establish a new system for getting pilots to their hotels more quickly after flights. But company watchers say Goodwin still may not be the next chief executive when CEO Gerald Greenwald is expected to retire in July.

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