In a sign of frustration with contract negotiations, Southwest Airlines pilots have authorized a strike. The move was approved by 95% of the pilots who cast a ballot, according to the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.
The pilots have been in contract negotiations with the airline since 2018, and they say that progress has been slow. The union says that Southwest is offering less favorable terms than other major airlines, and that it’s time for the pilots to take a stand.
The authorization doesn’t mean that the pilots will strike immediately, but it does give the union the ability to call a strike if necessary. Under U.S. law, airline workers must go through a lengthy process before they can legally strike. They must first receive permission from the National Mediation Board, which oversees labor-management relations in the airline industry. If the board grants permission, the union must wait 30 days before it can call a strike.
Southwest pilots are frustrated with what they say are slow negotiations, and they are also upset about the airline’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. They say that Southwest has not done enough to protect their health and safety, and that they deserve better treatment.
The airline, for its part, says that it is committed to negotiating a fair contract with the pilots, and that it has offered them competitive compensation and benefits. Southwest says that it is disappointed by the pilots’ decision to authorize a strike, and that it will continue to work with the union to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
If a strike were to occur, it would be a major disruption for Southwest and its passengers. The airline is one of the largest in the United States, and it operates hundreds of flights every day. A strike could lead to canceled flights and stranded passengers, and it could have ripple effects throughout the airline industry.
For now, it’s unclear when or if a strike will occur. The pilots’ authorization is a strong message to the airline that they are serious about their demands, but it remains to be seen whether the two sides can come to an agreement before it’s too late.