Southwest pilots vote to authorize strike weeks earlier than expected
Southwest pilots have overwhelmingly approved a potential strike just 10 days after the strike authorization vote opened.
In a press release Wednesday, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association announced their strike authorization vote results — 98% of the union's 10,645 pilots participated in the vote and 99% of those pilots voted to authorize a strike.
The voting period was supposed to close at the end of May, but SWAPA President Casey Murray said with 80% of pilots voting within the first six hours Monday, the support for authorizing a strike became clear.
"Well, we have been preparing for a strike for a while," Murray said. "With the state of Southwest's operation as well as negotiations really stagnating, we knew where our pilots were at."
Murray said pilots are unsatisfied with how Southwest has managed technical operations and scheduling. He and other pilots are concerned the airline might face another operational meltdown as the busy summer travel season approaches.
Other issues still on the table are salary, benefits, retirement and other contract terms pilots and management have failed to agree on after years at the negotiating table.
Southwest pilots would still have to bring their disputes before the National Mediation Board under Railway Labor Act guidelines before a strike ever happens. Murray said pilots are ready for whatever happens next.
"Our pilots feel that they're not being heard, and this is their way of of expressing their lack of confidence in Southwest leadership," Murray said.
Southwest Airlines wrote in a statement the strike authorization vote won't affect customers' summer travel plans.
"Our negotiating team continues to bargain in good faith and work toward reaching a new agreement to reward our Pilots," said Adam Carlisle, vice president labor relations at Southwest Airlines. "This anticipated authorization vote result does not change our commitment to the negotiation process, and we look forward to continuing discussions with SWAPA at the negotiating table."
Got a tip? Email Toluwani Osibamowo at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Toluwani on Twitter @tosibamowo.
KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.
Copyright 2023 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.