After working more than four years without a contract, pilots from the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) gathered today at the Dallas Love Field Airport terminal to stand together in an informational picket to display their dissatisfaction.
A line of pilots stretched outside from ticketing to baggage claim, holding signs in an expression of frustration over a lengthy labor relations battle.
“We have 1,000 pilots here today to protest a protracted negotiation now approaching four-and-a-half years,” said SWAPA President, Captain Jon Weaks.
“The pilots of Southwest simply want to remain contractually on par with our fellow professional pilots at other companies. Management actions, however, continue to foster labor discord. We are truly saddened that our company has strayed so far from the people-focused roots that made it the success it is today.”
After more than two years in traditional bargaining, SWAPA and Southwest Airlines have been in federal mediation since November 2014, which includes meetings this week in California. During that time, executives have enjoyed nearly 50% in average raises and shareholders have enjoyed nearly $6 billion in stock buybacks while SWA pilot wages have been stagnant since 2011 and are well behind industry standard wages.
“We are also working to ‘pay it forward’ beyond just this pilot group,” continued Weaks. “Pilots looking for employment at a major airline are certainly not going to choose Southwest Airlines without a competitive contract, and we are already seeing the negative impact. Now is the time to finish these negotiations, both to reward the most productive pilots in the industry and to position Southwest to be able to recruit pilots from an already dwindling pool of qualified candidates.”
The SWAPA pilots were also joined today by Southwest flight attendants, mechanics, and pilots from other airlines.
When approached by the Aviation Tribune for comment, Southwest Airlines spokesperson said that the airline did not have anything to add about the Pilots picketing.
“We respect their right to do so”, Southwest Airlines spokesperson added.