Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Union Threatens to Picket Over Work Conditions

August 19, 2021

Southwest Airlines Picket Threat

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association said they are considering 'multiple picket protests later in the year claiming a lack of hotels, crew rest, unclear Covid protocols and more grievances.

The Union says they are not being heard by management at Southwest and even alluded to instances where they have been treated with hostility over the matter.

SWAPA president Casey Murray claimed in a video message on Thursday that while the union has made multiple attempts to meet with Southwest to resolve the issues, members have been met with "reluctance and a lack of understanding, and sometimes straight up hostility."
"We must accept that our efforts to improve efficiency and make Southwest Airlines more competitive have fallen on deaf ears time and time again, because the company has made it clear that they are comfortable with the operation as is managed today…these decisions are impacting not just pilots, but other frontline workers, as well as our customers." Murray said. "We are asking for you to stand with us and show the company that we are resolute in our insistence that they begin to address their immediate operational issues and accept SWAPA as a partner to resolve the chronic problems that cloud our airline's future."

Southwest Pilots Say Their Suggestions for Improvement Have Not Been Taken Seriously

Murray said that SWAPA has offered "many solutions over the years that create margin" for both Southwest pilots and the airline as a whole, but that management's refusal to try the union's solutions or engage in a discussion has lead members to consider the protests. 

"SWAPA is taking these actions because our pilots love Southwest Airlines and we want to protect and preserve it," Murray concluded. "Until management starts taking us seriously and addresses some of our pilots concerns, we cannot sit idly by and wait for things to fall further apart."

Southwest vice president of flight operations Bob Waltz told FOX Business the airline has teams "working diligently to adapt to the current environment and support our employees during this peak travel season, including efforts focused on providing support to our pilots." 

"We routinely work with the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association on a variety of matters that affect our pilots, but we also have a responsibility to consider a number of factors before implementation of suggestions," Waltz added. "We remain committed to listening to feedback and proactively working to address issues as we navigate the months ahead."

Pilots Union Sent a Letter to CEO Gary Kelly: 'Protect us - and help us protect ourselves'

The call from pilots comes after TWU Local 556, the Southwest flight attendants union, sent a letter to CEO Gary Kelly on Tuesday demanding improvements in working conditions, protection for members against unruly passengers, an end to the "abusive nature" of extended duty days and reschedules, stopping additional pairings on flights, and terminating the company's use of emergency sick call procedures.

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