The Morning Call

South­west is­sues 402 more fur­lough warn­ings amid talks

- By Kyle Arnold Business · Southwest Airlines · Dallas · American Airlines · Fort Worth · Fort Worth · Texas · Gary C. Kelly

South­west Air­lines told another 402 me­chan­ics and other em­ploy­ees that they could be fur­loughed in Jan­uary as the car­rier tries to ne­go­ti­ate cost cuts with union groups.

Dal­las-based South­west, which has never fur­loughed a worker in its 50-year history but is now fac­ing “multi-bil­lion dol­lar losses” next year due to the COVID-19 pan­demic, is push­ing for 10% wage cuts from every union em­ployee af­ter al­ready cut­ting pay for non-union work­ers and man­age­ment for 2021.

The work­ers is­sued fur­lough warn­ings rep­re­sented by the Air­craft Me­chan­ics Fra­ter­nal As­so­ci­a­tion and in­clude me­chan­ics, ap­pear­ance tech­ni­cians and fa­cil­i­ties main­te­nance tech­ni­cians. The fur­loughs are sched­uled for Jan. 25 if South­west can’t get a deal or Congress doesn’t pass pay­roll stim­u­lus for air­lines.

South­west also is­sued another 1,502 warn­ings to other AMFA mem­bers work­ing at South­west that could be fur­loughed due to se­nior­ity.

South­west is­sued warn­ings to 42 ma­te­ri­als spe­cial­ists this month for em­ploy­ees that help main­tain stock for air­craft main­te­nance.

“We have been en­gaged with our unions since early October seek­ing path­ways to help us re­duce our costs, and it is un­for­tu­nate that we had to move for­ward with this out­come, as the af­fected Em­ploy­ees are val­ued mem­bers of the South­west Fam­ily,” South­west Vice Pres­i­dent of La­bor Re­la­tions Russell McCrady said in a state­ment. “We are not clos­ing the door to fur­ther dis­cus­sions, but we need agree­ments to be reached to help us save these Em­ploy­ees’ jobs and ad­dress the ex­tremely challengin­g eco­nomic con­di­tions we face.”

The WARN No­tices, re­quired by fed­eral and state law to give work­ers no­tice ahead of large lay­offs, don’t mean lay­offs are im­mi­nent but lay the ground­work in the event that an em­ployer does need to cut work­ers.

Be­cause the work­ers have union con­tracts, they are pro­tected from per­ma­nent lay­offs through re­call rights.

Com­pet­ing car­rier Amer­i­can Air­lines, based in Fort Worth, Texas, has fur­loughed or laid off 19,000 union and non-union work­ers as it faces sim­i­lar strug­gles dur­ing the pan­demic.

South­west lost $1.2 bil­lion in the se­cond quar­ter and is still burn­ing through about $11 mil­lion a day. CEO Gary Kelly said last month that the com­pany is about 20% over­staffed and will need to cut salaries and other costs if they hope to stop los­ing money.

But ne­go­ti­a­tions have been tense so far with unions. Pilots and flight at­ten­dants have pushed South­west to come up with other op­tions than cut­ting salaries. Lyn Mont­gomery, Pres­i­dent of TWU Lo­cal 556 rep­re­sent­ing flight at­ten­dants, said that cut­ting salaries won’t fix South­west’s prob­lems with too many em­ploy­ees and not enough cus­tomers.

 ?? JA­SON REDMOND/GETTY-AFP ?? South­west Air­lines’ 50-year streak of never hav­ing to fur­lough a worker is in jeopardy.
JA­SON REDMOND/GETTY-AFP South­west Air­lines’ 50-year streak of never hav­ing to fur­lough a worker is in jeopardy.

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