Pilots, mechanics, ramp workers, and flight attendants picketed Southwest Airline’s Dallas Love Field home base, calling for the replacement of CEO Gary Kelly and COO Mike Van de Ven, following July’s system-wide technical outage that disrupted thousands of flights and left flight attendants stranded at airports. Workers’ unions are critical of current management for not adequately investing in the company’s operations and putting the needs of shareholders ahead of employees during a time of record profitability.
“The recent technical outage was kind of the last straw for us,” says Audrey Stone, president of Transport Workers Union Local 556, which organized the picket. Several unions have been attempting to negotiate new contracts with Southwest for almost four years. Aside from financial issues, the negotiations center on quality of life issues—scheduling, length of workdays, and vacation.
The Love Field picket coincided with demonstrations at other Southwest crew bases, including airports in Houston, Chicago, Denver, Atlanta, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Oakland, and Orlando.