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Southwest pilots’ union calls vote to authorize potential strike

A Southwest Airlines passenger plane lands at Chicago Midway International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 2022.

Kamil Krzaczynski | AFP | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines The pilots’ union plans to carry a vote that would give it the facility to call a possible strike, coming weeks after the airline’s holiday meltdown has further strained relations with unions.

Even if Southwest pilots vote to present the union the facility to declare a strike, it could not be immediate and would require the approval of the federal National Mediation Board.

Southwest and the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association have been negotiating a latest contract for years.

Union leaders focused on higher working rules and scheduling for Southwest staff. During last month’s travel chaos, many pilots and flight attendants were stranded and had to attend to be connected to schedules staff or hotel services.

Union chairman Casey Murray said this was the primary time a vote had been taken to authorize a strike.

“This decision just isn’t based on emotion, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t indignant,” Murray wrote to the pilots. He said the union was also negotiating a “gratitude wage to compensate our pilots who suffered consequently of the meltdown.”

The strike vote will begin on May 1, Murray said. Scheduling it for this time means “we are able to best prepare and provides our customers time to book elsewhere so that they can rest assured about their summer holidays, honeymoon and family outings,” he wrote to members.

Southwest Airlines didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Delta Airlines the pilots voted in October to permit the union to go on strike, although the union and company reached a tentative agreement on a latest contract a couple of month later.

Labor negotiations are underway across the U.S. aviation industry, with unions demanding higher wages and higher working conditions after carriers tried to quickly increase flight capability because the Covid crisis eased strained staff and crews.

Southwest is because of report quarterly results on January 26, and executives are prone to face questions from analysts about potential job deals and the impact of 1000’s of canceled vacations. The airline said the incident can have cost it greater than $800 million.

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