- Southwest Airlines pilots are holding their first-ever multi-base picket tomorrow due to failed contract negotiations and rising tensions.
- Over 200 pilots have left the airline since the beginning of the year.
- The pilot union’s request to leave negotiations was denied by the National Mediation Board, but the pilots are determined to continue fighting for a fair contract.
Southwest Airlines pilots are going to do something unprecedented tomorrow. Its pilots will hold a multi-base picket for the first time in the airline’s history. The announcement comes as negotiations have not gone as the pilots hoped.
Southwest Airlines‘ pilots have been negotiating a new contract for more than three years, and it appears they are fed up with negotiations not leading to an agreement of their demands. Today, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) shared a press release from yesterday announcing its first-ever multi-base picket, which will occur tomorrow. On Twitter, the SWAPA finished the post with ‘Southwest Airlines, your pilots are ready to strike.’
Social media posts have circulated recently, highlighting the number of pilots that have left Southwest Airlines since the beginning of the year. That number has surpassed 200. For three-and-a-half years, Southwest Airlines has been negotiating with its pilots, and the two sides have not been able to agree, leading to rising tensions and even a request for federal mediation last year. In May, 99% of Southwest’s pilots voted to strike and are only awaiting approval from the National Mediation Board.
Casey Murray, president of the SWAPA, noted that the delay in negotiations is not only a detriment to the pilots but to the airline itself, which is losing manpower and leaving many unhappy with their working conditions.
“Our pilots deserve a contract that befits the most productive pilots in the industry, and we have been attempting to get Southwest to realize that their delay in reaching an agreement is causing irreparable harm not just to our pilots, but to the airline itself. We are willing to take the RLA process all the way to its conclusion to ensure that our airline and our pilots have secure futures.”
Murray also highlighted that other major carriers have already agreed to deals with their pilots and are luring Southwest’s pilots with better offers.
Tomorrow’s pickets will occur in Baltimore, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, and Chicago Midway and end at noon local time.
Though the union shared in yesterday’s press release it is awaiting approval from the National Mediation Board to strike, the authorization to leave negotiations was denied earlier this month. At the time of the mediation board’s decision, Murray stated that the pilots were “…farther away today than the day we filed for release…” The union felt that even mediation would not improve the situation between the pilots and the airlines.
Photo: VDB Photos | Shutterstock
The airline opposed the union’s request in June. It stated it had made an industry-leading offer to its pilots and adjusted its workplace quality-of-life issues, which have recently become an essential part of negotiations for new pilot contracts in the US.
To read more on the mediation board’s decision, click here.