DALLAS: Southwest Airlines warned practically 7,000 staff on Thursday that they may lose their jobs except labor unions settle for concessions to assist the airline address a pointy drop in journey attributable to the pandemic.
Southwest is working far fewer flights, and it requested unions in October for assist with overstaffing prices that it estimates will quantity to greater than $1 billion in 2021. Southwest requested for pay cuts of round 10% in trade for no furloughs via subsequent yr.
The airways prime labor-relations official, Russell McCrady, mentioned Southwest’s aim is to avoid wasting each job. However, attributable to an absence of significant progress in negotiations, we needed to proceed with issuing notifications, he mentioned. The advisories to staff, often known as WARN notices, are legally required 60 days earlier than large-scale layoffs or furloughs.
McCrady mentioned the airline is prepared to renew negotiations with unions.
The warnings went to six,828 staff together with greater than 2,500 floor staff and 1,500 flight attendants represented by the Transport Workers Union and 1,221 pilots, who’ve their very own union. As of the top of September, Southwest had about 58,000 staff, together with 11,000 on long-term go away.
Dallas-based Southwest, the nations fourth-biggest airline, boasts that it has by no means furloughed staff in its historical past courting again greater than 50 years. It inspired 1000’s of staff to take buyouts or early retirement this yr however prevented layoffs. Rivals American Airlines and United Airlines furloughed 32,000 staff between them in October.
Jon Weaks, president of the pilots union, known as the furlough notices a tragic milestone in Southwest historical past.
While this growth is just not fully shocking, it’s extremely disappointing to our pilots and their households who are actually coping with the stress that arrives together with this discover, Weaks mentioned in a video to his members.
The unions mentioned they’ve proposed cost-cutting measures to Southwest, however administration has rejected them and refused to supply one other spherical of voluntary buyouts.
Sending WARN Act notices both as a scare tactic or as an precise intent to furlough when different choices accessible weren’t explored is about as unhappy because it will get, mentioned Lyn Montgomery, president of the flight attendants’ union.
Southwest obtained $3.2 billion in federal help this spring as its share of the $25 billion allotted by Congress to assist airways cowl their labor prices via September. Airlines are lobbying for extra taxpayer assist. A bipartisan proposal unveiled in Congress this week would give them one other $17 billion.
David Koenig could be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter
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