Dallas, Texas – The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) filed a lawsuit against the carrier on Monday 16, 2016. The organization wants the court to prevent the company from using their new acquisition, the Boeing 737 Max, until the company has included it in the negotiation.
The new airplane is expected to arrive by the third quarter of 2017, and the 8,300 employees protected by the union demand the airplane to be included in the contract way before that happens.
It might seem weird, but it is custom for airlines to update the pilots’ contracts when they buy a new aircraft. And that includes what planes will be flown, pay rates and other related things. However, Southwest Airlines has been avoiding the subject for more than four years, according to the pilots. If the lawsuit proceeds, it would create a scenario where even a strike is possible. And the implications are alarming because, among other things, Southwest is the busiest passenger carrier at the McCarran International Airport.
The issue is clear, the pilots want a higher pay rate, but the company claims the new airplane does not differ from the ones they already fly. According to a spokesperson, the only difference is in the engine, and they do not have to specify it.
Pilots union sues Southwest Airlines for "unfair tactics" https://t.co/hJLada2Eea
— SWA Pilots' Assn. (@swapapilots) May 16, 2016
The pilot’s objective
For obvious reasons, it would be very difficult for a court to make the company increase the pilot’s pay rate, but what it can do is to make illegal the use of any airplane that is not included in the contract. This would violate the Railway Labor act in which both the company and the employees have to be in common ground, and until this happens, employees could legally leave their posts unattended.
Southwest Airlines’ Senior Vice President for labor relationships, Randy Rabbitt, said the company not only intents, but also expects, they will get to an agreement with the pilots, way before the 737 Max arrives.
The company is having its annual shareholder meeting at Chicago’s Midway Airport on May 18, and some pilots are planning on taking the complaint directly to the ones paying the bills.
Source: 247 Wall Street