Southwest Files Lawsuit Against Its Mechanics’ Union

Mar 1, 2019

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Southwest Airlines is making headlines again. The carrier alleged in a lawsuit Thursday that its mechanics’ union, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, encouraged its workers to intentionally ground aircraft over minor maintenance issues in order to leverage the plane shortage for labor contract negotiations.

Southwest has been forced to cancel hundreds of February flights as a result of the number of unavailable planes. On average, 20 planes out of Southwest’s Boeing 737 fleet are out of service each day; this past week, Southwest had to ground 45 planes on Tuesday and 51 on Wednesday.

Southwest’s mechanics have been negotiating pay terms with the airline for more than six years, and the relationship between airline and union workers has deteriorated as a result. Most recently, the mechanics shot down a new contract proposal in September because the airline offered a pay increase below their requested amount.

The tension escalated on Feb. 22 when Southwest’s chief legal officer, Mark Shaw, publicly accused a group of approximately 100 mechanics for delaying the majority of the out-of-service planes, stating, “Based on all the information that we have received this week, we believe there is a concerted, ongoing effort by a subset of mechanics at various stations to negatively impact Southwest’s operations by writing up maintenance issues that are not based on safety issues and historical practice.”

AMFA union’s attorney, Nick Granath, responded with a heated public message which stated that Southwest executives were attempting to “hide a degraded maintenance safety culture behind contract negotiations with AMFA. Granath added, “This is deplorable and represents a real danger to your employees and your passengers.”

TPG reached out to both Southwest as well as to AMFA’s attorney for comment, but had not heard back as of the time of this post.

Featured photo by Unsplash.

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