Southwest Airlines pilots voted in favor of a strike action, their union said Thursday.
Some 99% of the members of Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) voted to authorize a strike, with 98% of them participating, the union said in a press release. The vote from the union was supposed to run throughout the end of May, but the pilots ensured their voices were heard in less than two weeks of the scheduled vote time.
The union stated that operational disasters and the lack of progress after more than three years of ‘stagnant negotiations’ were the main reasons pilots voted to authorize the strike action.
“This is a historic day, not only for our pilots, but for Southwest Airlines,” SWAPA president Casey Murray said in the press release. “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.”
Southwest Flight Forced Into Emergency Landing After Filling With Smoke https://t.co/6XqQnQBxT5
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The vote allows the union’s 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,” Murray noted.
Murray explicitly stated that the airline wants “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.” Kelleher co-founded the airline, and was described by Forbes as a “maverick.”
Kelleher died in 2019, according to Southwest Airlines. In 1998, Southwest Airlines was voted the best place to work in America, which was attributed to Kelleher’s “heart,” “friendly management style, love of parties, and publicity stunts.” (RELATED: Potentially Worst Air Disaster In History Narrowly Avoided At Austin Airport)
SWAPA wants customers to be prepared for a potential summer and fall of disruptions, and should make arrangements with other carriers as soon as possible. Southwest stated that the vote has no impact on scheduled operations.
“Our negotiating team continues to bargain in good faith and work toward reaching a new agreement to reward our Pilots,” Southwest Airlines vice president of labor relations Adam Carlisle noted in the statement. “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.”