Southwest Airlines Workers Seeking Mediation
The union that represents Southwest Airlines’ passenger service and reservation employees has submitted a request for federal mediation. The goal is for the mediator to help move talks regarding contract negotiations forward. The negotiations have been ongoing for two years.
The airline recently reached an agreement with its mechanics after seven years of negotiations.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) represent more than 7800 workers. The union has a right to invoke mediation with the National Mediation Board and it has chosen to do so. According to the Railway Labor Act, companies and unions must seek federal mediation before taking other action, such as a walkout, lockout, or strike.
According to a statement released by IAM “While many contract issues remain unresolved, the one issue that has completely derailed negotiations is Southwest’s treatment of its employees.” One of the problems employees have is the requirement to return to work after their shift has ended and be required to work overtime. IAM believes that if the company were staffed properly this would not be an ongoing problem.
The current contract allows the company to call for mandatory overtime if necessary, which is normal in the airline industry. However, the airline points out that current mandatory overtime needs have reached a historically low period.
According to representatives from Southwest, the company has offered a proposal for changes that would reduce the overtime need even more.
Labor issues are an ongoing challenge for Southwest and other airlines. The company is due to begin negotiations with its pilots in March of this year.