Southwest Airlines pilot union calls for strike authorization vote


Southwest Airlines Co's pilot union has called for a strike authorization vote, weeks after a tech meltdown at the carrier left tens of thousands of passengers stranded across the United States.

The airline said the proposed vote will not affect operations and is "not an indication of an impending work stoppage."

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As major U.S. airlines scramble to capitalize on booming consumer demand and with the industry returning to profitability, pilots at all major U.S. carriers have been demanding higher wages and a better work-life balance.

"It is not a decision we have taken lightly, but given the trajectory of our current leadership group, we have little faith in the stability and future of our airline," Capt. Casey Murray, president of Southwest Airlines Pilot Association (SWAPA), said in a statement.

The strike authorization vote will take place beginning May 1 and will be counted at the end of that month, said SWAPA, which represents more than 10,000 pilots.

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"We will continue to follow the process outlined in the Railway Labor Act and work, under the assistance of the National Mediation Board, toward reaching an agreement," said Adam Carlisle, vice president of Labor Relations at Southwest Airlines.

"The union's potential vote does not hinder our ongoing efforts at the negotiating table. We are scheduled to resume mediation on Jan. 24."

Southwest pilots have been locked in talks over a new contract with the airline for nearly three years.

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Delta Air Lines Inc offered a 34% cumulative pay increase last month to its pilots over three years in a new contract after the Atlanta-based carrier's pilots voted overwhelmingly in October to authorize a strike.

Pilots have termed Delta's offer as a benchmark for other contracts.


Source: Reuters

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