Sky Talk

No. 9 Labor issues at Southwest

Star-Telegram

The happy, loving relationship between Southwest Airlines and its unions hit some speed bumps in 2014.

The Dallas-based airline has been in lengthy contract talks with its unionized workers and some workers say that management has turned its focus to profits and away from employees.

Twice this holiday travel season, Southwest ramp workers have held informational picketing outside of Dallas Love Field. Represented by the Transport Workers Union, 10,000 ground workers have been without a new contract for more than three years.

During the picketing, the workers held signs featuring Southwest’s new heart logo broken in half and the words “It’s Just a Machine Without a Heart.”

Flight attendants and pilots are also in contract talks with Southwest. In November, the pilots asked federal mediators to step in to help with negotiations as the two sides remain far apart on several issues.

"This is certainly not a step either side wants to take during negotiations and certainly not a typical step in the pilot and management relationship at Southwest Airlines, " Mark Richardson, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, said in a statement when the union filed for mediation.

There was a bright spot as the airline’s customer service agents and customer representatives approved a new contract that included pay raises and signing bonuses.

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