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Southwest Airline Flight Attendants Vote for Strike Authorization

Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants, through the Transport Workers Union Local 556, have taken a historical step by voting in favor of strike authorization. This decision marks a first in the union’s history and signals a significant shift in labor relations at the airline. The move comes after a failed negotiation over a contract that the union deemed unsatisfactory.

Historic Vote

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For the first time in the union’s history, Southwest Airlines flight attendants have voted to authorize a strike. This decision followed the rejection of a contract negotiated between the airline and the union.

Overwhelming Support

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An overwhelming majority of the union members, about 98 percent, voted in favor of the strike authorization. This strong turnout sends a clear message of unity and resolve among the flight attendants.

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Union’s Announcement

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TWU Local 556, representing over 21,000 flight attendants, publicly announced the historic vote. The union declared, “We made HISTORY! Never in our history have members approved a strike authorization.”

A Strong Message

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The vote is seen as a demonstration of solidarity and determination among the union members. TWU emphasized the significance of the 98% vote, reflecting the collective will of the flight attendants.

Demanding Fairness

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The core issue is the pursuit of a more favorable contract for the flight attendants. Key demands include improved scheduling, fair compensation, and better working conditions.

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Setting Industry Standards

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Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, stresses the need for pay that sets a new industry standard. The union is pushing for changes that recognize their contributions to the airline’s success.

Equal Treatment

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Montgomery criticizes the airline for unequal treatment of different employee groups. She highlights the denial of certain work rule changes for flight attendants while granting them to other groups.

A Fight for Value

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The struggle extends beyond job roles to encompass the very personhood of the flight attendants. Montgomery expresses the need for the airline to value its employees equally.

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Rejected Contract Deal

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Last month, a contract offering industry-leading pay was voted down. This proposed contract would have set pay rates 16 percent above those of non-union crews at Delta Air Lines.

Long Negotiations

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The rejected contract followed five years of negotiations without pay raises. Montgomery emphasized the need for a collective bargaining agreement that meets the flight attendants’ needs.

Comparing Industry Raises

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The context of these negotiations is set against other airline workers securing significant pay raises. For example, pilots at American, United, and Delta have won raises of about 40 percent over five years.

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Through the Pandemic

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Southwest’s flight attendants, like many in the industry, continued working through the pandemic. They now seek recognition and fair compensation as the airline industry returns to profitability.

Returning to Negotiation

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The union is prepared to return to the negotiating table. The goal is to secure a contract that truly reflects the hard work and dedication of the flight attendants.

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A Historic Movement

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This vote for strike authorization is not just a union matter; it’s a significant moment in the airline industry. It represents a broader call for fair treatment and recognition in the sector.

The Road Ahead

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As negotiations are set to resume, the flight attendants stand united in their quest for a fair contract. This moment marks a pivotal chapter in the history of labor relations at Southwest Airlines.

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