Southwest Airlines Union Denies Certification for Flight Attendants’ Votes on Tentative Agreement, Turbulence Looms

Southwest Airlines flight attendants, who are represented by Transport Workers Union Local 556, are currently mired in contract negotiations that have been plagued by uncertainty and allegations of foul play. After voting down a tentative agreement by a significant margin last week, the flight attendants are demanding higher pay and better work rules in the new contract. Their previous contract expired in 2018, and the proposed new agreement would represent a 20% raise for them next year.

However, flight attendants have been dealing with stalled negotiations due to the impact of the pandemic, which put a pause on talks in 2020. The voting for the new agreement will take place from Nov. 16 to Dec. 8. The proposed contract also includes a 3% raise annually from 2025 to 2028, resulting in an overall increase of 36% for top-of-scale flight attendants and up to 90% for others. In addition, it offers paid parental and maternity leave with insurance coverage, as well as a new reserve system that replaces a 24-hour on-call period with three 12-hour shifts.

Flight attendants, while demanding better compensation during boarding and extended ground time, have also expressed discontent with how their needs have been ignored in the past, leading to a lack of faith in the current negotiations. A recent holiday meltdown in 2022, where attendants were left stranded for hours without proper assistance, further exacerbated the situation. The lingering negotiations, coupled with an economic environment of compounding inflation, have made the flight attendants wary of locking in a pay scale that may soon become outdated.

The situation took a turn for the worse when, after their overwhelming rejection of the proposed contract, TWU 556, almost five days later, claimed that the voting process had been compromised, and they would not be able to certify the results of the election. This raised suspicions and led to concerns over the union’s handling of the negotiations, as well as the integrity of their leadership. The flight attendants are disillusioned and questioning whether the union’s priorities are aligned with their needs.

Amidst conflicting narratives and veiled threats of litigation, TrueBallot, the third-party vendor tasked with overseeing the vote, reiterated that the election was not compromised, dispelling misinformation and standing by the accuracy and security of the ratification. This has only served to further muddy the waters for the flight attendants, as they grapple with the uncertainty surrounding their contract negotiations and the actions of their union.

The ongoing saga has left Southwest flight attendants at an impasse, as they strive for a resolution to a contract negotiation that has been dragging on for years. As fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics continue to taint the process, the flight attendants find themselves engaging in an increasingly adversarial relationship with a union they can no longer trust. Amidst the turbulence, they hope for a swift and fair resolution to the ongoing struggle for better working conditions and compensation.

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