News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Southwest Airlines Mechanics Picket, Ending Bad Week

Bill Zeeble
Southwest Airlines mechanics formed an informational picket line along Mockingbird Lane at the entrance of Love Field. The carrier's headquarters is nearby, and Southwest dominates traffic at the Dallas airport.

It’s been a bumpy week for Dallas based southwest Airlines. This week, a computer outage took down its website, forcing 1,300 flight cancellations, and stranding passengers and crews. Then, despite a record second quarter profit, its stock price fell. Today, hundreds of union members picketed at Love Field over stalled contract talks.  

As a Southwest 737 flew overhead near Dallas Love Field, union mechanics marched this morning to vent their frustration. They’ve have been working now four years without a contract.

“All the contracts now have degraded to the point that they’re under federal mediation,” said Louie Key, national director for the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association - AMFA -  the union for Southwest mechanics.

“We’re all frustrated they’re going nowhere, which seems absurd to us given the record profits the company’s making.”

Yesterday, Southwest Airlines reported a record 2nd quarter profit of $820 million. Key says other carriers have given employees raises after profitable quarters. Not Southwest.

In addition to pay, Key is also worried about job protection.

“As airlines outsource more and more work,” Key said, “we have to protect those jobs. Southwest sends many of their planes to El Salvador for their heavy maintenance work.”

Key was joined by fellow flight attendants and pilots, who’ve also gone years without a contract. As they picketed, managers worked to fix other problems. Wednesday’s computer outage forced yet another 300 flight cancelations this morning. That’s after 1,000 cancelations the past two day.  Southwest refused to comment on air.  In a statement, the company said thousands of customers were inconvenienced across the system – “certainly not the level of customer service we strive to deliver.”

As for the drop in Southwest’s stock - more than 10% over just days -the company said it doesn’t comment on stock prices.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.