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Southwest Airlines Pilots to Go on Strike?

Southwest Airlines pilots announced Thursday that they have voted to authorize a strike.

Pilots are pushing for pay raises during contract negotiations.

“Southwest Airlines Pilots Association’s (SWAPA) strike authorization vote has closed after just a week and half with 98% participation and 99% of pilots voting to authorize a strike. This historic vote from the pilot union was scheduled to run through the end of May, but the pilots of Southwest Airlines have already made their voices heard about the operational disasters and the lack of progress after three-plus years of stagnant negotiations,” a SWAPA press release stated.

Cont. from the SWAPA press release:

“This is a historic day, not only for our pilots, but for Southwest Airlines,” said SWAPA President Casey Murray. “The lack of leadership and the unwillingness to address the failures of our organization have led us to this point. Our pilots are tired of apologizing to our passengers on behalf of a company that refuses to place its priorities on its internal and external customers.”

Murray continued, “Today, our Pilots have empowered our Negotiating Committee Chair, Captain Jody Reven, to petition the National Mediation Board to release us to self-help imminently at which time we will follow the process set forth by the Railway Labor Act and continue toward a strike. We want our passengers to understand that we do not take this path lightly and are disheartened that the LUV airline has gotten so far away from the values set forth by Herb Kelleher. We want our customers to be prepared for the path ahead and make arrangements on other carriers so that their plans through the summer and fall are not disrupted.”

AP reported:

The outcome of the vote was widely expected after a similar result at American Airlines, but it doesn’t mean that a strike is imminent. Under U.S. law, airline workers can’t legally strike unless federal mediators decide that further negotiations are pointless. Even then, the president and Congress can block a strike.

Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said the union will petition mediators for permission to strike but will follow the process spelled out in the law.

The union and the Dallas-based airline have been negotiating over a new contract for more than three years.


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