November 16, 2023
The Dallas Express — As the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is preparing to be released from federal mediation regarding contract negotiations, it’s opened a regional strike center in Dallas.
“It holds about 15 to 20 people, and it will be used to track pilots and planes in the event of a strike,” wrote Amy Robinson, SWAPA’s director of communications, in an email to The Dallas Express.
SWAPA officials said in a news release earlier this month they are opening the center “to create a local place for pilot volunteers to watch and monitor the coming and going of both pilots and planes in the event of a strike.”
The strike center is at 1450 Empire Central.
It’s the first time that a Southwest Airlines work group has come this far in the process of a strike, according to the release.
“The regional strike centers are being opened because our pilots have shown that they are ready to take the RLA process all the way up to its conclusion. While none of us wants to go on strike, we are preparing for that path because Southwest simply has not shown that it is willing to invest the time, energy and money into creating a better experience for us (or) our customers.”
The RLA process refers to the Railway Labor Act, which compels mandatory dispute resolution between carriers and employees.
SWAPA filed for federal mediation in September 2022, with mediators and airlines officials meeting weekly for months, according to the release.
“As our negotiations linger and the holiday travel season approaches, we have to be prepared for a strike, and that’s exactly what we are doing with the opening of these centers,” SWAPA president Capt. Casey Murray said in a statement. “It is unfortunate that we have come to this place, but Southwest Airlines has to recognize the value of its employees and get back to taking care of them so that they will take care of the customer.”
SWAPA and Southwest have had a strained relationship for years, aviation news source Simply Flying has reported. According to the outlet, the pilots have a track record of criticizing the work culture and the airlines’ willingness — or lack thereof — to negotiate in good faith.
Southwest is headquartered in Dallas. The carrier employs about 72,000 workers and operates more than 4,000 flights each day during peak travel times.
Read the full article on The Dallas Express.