Transport Workers Union Local 555, which represents about 8,500 Southwest Airlines ground operations workers, says it has filed for federal mediation with the National Mediation Board, as provided for in the Railway Labor Act, after being unable to reach a new contract with the Dallas-based airline.
“This development in our contract negotiations is very disappointing," Local 555 President Charles Cerf said in a release Wednesday. "Despite the highest second quarter profit in the history of Southwest Airlines, Southwest has proposed changes in our collective bargaining agreement which are concessionary in nature and entirely unacceptable to our members."
The proposed contract changes sought by Southwest include outsourcing jobs, increasing part-time workers and reduced medical and on the job injury benefits. Negotiations have been under way since July 2011.
"It appears that Southwest may be attempting to use other airlines’ bankruptcies to bolster their need to lower costs and squeeze frontline employees," Cerf said. TWU Local 555 members contribute significantly to the success of Southwest Airlines, and this new approach to labor is appalling to many career employees who care about our customers and the success of our airline. We are hopeful that a federal mediator can assist us in reaching a fair agreement.”