The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association Is Planning Another Picket: Here’s Why

  • Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 San Francisco

    Southwest Airlines

    IATA / ICAO Code:
    WN / SWA

    Airline Type:
    Low-Cost Carrier

    Hub (s):
    Baltimore / Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dallas Love Field, Denver International Airport, Harry Reid International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Houston Hobby Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Midway International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Robert Jordan

    United States

Southwest Airlines has work to do with its relationship with the Southwest Airline Pilots Association (SWAPA), with 9,800 pilot members and one polemicist pilot for President in Casey Murray, after Murray’s latest podcast about the workplace and about the progress of contract negotiations. In this podcast, Murray made it transparent that Southwest’s management has significant room to improve.

Murray said about the first six months of CEO Bob Jordan, “Whatever changes are occurring, aren’t sufficient to really correct a lot of the issues that we’ve seen for 14 months.” Some of those issues are called out below but ultimately, for Murray and his SWAPA management, the once celebrated Southwest Airlines culture to a point where Southwest Airlines “Has gone from a company that supported its employees, to a company supported by its employees.”


Deadheading remains an issue

An empty seat on a Southwest Airlines flight … possibly needed for a deadheading pilot. Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

Yes, deadheading pilots is a vital issue in the Southwest Airlines network. As mentioned earlier this year, this is an ongoing concern for the airline because pilots that are passengers to connect to flying assignments are fatiguing and also away from families not… piloting. Plus, the deadheading adds to delays in the Southwest network, which also harms customers and flight attendants.

Casey went on to explain that his perception is that Southwest “Has changed dramatically” as more “complex,” but those leading the airline’s scheduling efforts, Are still mired in 20-year-old operations ”.

Commitment to negotiations

Murray also questioned Southwest Airlines’ commitment to labor negotiations. While Southwest Airlines CEO Jordan has said he wants a deal by October, SWAPA President Murray says there are insufficient negotiation dates to get a deal done. Murray says,

Realistically, I think the end of the year should be a realistic target. … We need more dates. We are pilots, we work Friday, Saturday, and Sundays, we work Saturday, Sunday, and Mondays, and we work every day during the week. … We work at two in the morning, we will do whatever it takes, and we’re willing to commit to that. But again, that is not happening.

Regardless of what the company does, regardless of their motivations, we’re going to continue to move forward with visual displays of unity, we’re going to continue talking to Wall Street and do whatever it takes to get the best possible contract we can .

Murray also explained in the podcast that requesting mediation is not something the SWAPA pilots want. Mediation is an endeavor under the Railway Labor Act that stretches out labor negotiations on the way to a Tentative Agreement for the SWAPA members to ratify.

Another informational picket planned to protest workplace culture

It’s clear that Southwest Airlines is flying thru turbulent skies internally. Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying

On the heels of the SWAPA 1,300 pilot member informational picket at Dallas, the SWAPA President has called another September 21, 2022 event in Nashville, Tennessee, while Southwest Airlines management holds a culture party. Informational pickets are solely comprised of off-duty pilots and supporters intended to stress workplace issues publicly on time off.

To Murray, the informational pickets are “expensive to hold” but “Critical when the company has shown a lack of motivation to get a contract done.” This next picket is precisely because of Murray’s “strong feelings” to send a public-facing message that they’re picketing to protest senior leaders’ mismanagement and degradation of workplace culture.

Murray also wrote in a recent newsletter that, the Southwest culture is part of Southwest’s historical success story. However, Murray then expounded on this with,

Pilots and other frontline employees have had our employment culture weaponized, monetized, and undone by those entrusted to protect and nurture it. We can no longer pretend that what they are fostering is an environment that promotes the values ​​they claim they espouse.

This was after Murray gave some stark examples with explanations in brackets:

  • 20,000 days our Pilots have worked involuntarily over the last year
  • 150 open grievances with some Company interpretations bordering on the absurd
  • 947 days since negotiations opened with only one out of 25 sections [reaching an agreement in principle]
  • Millions of dollars in bonuses to the execs in 2020 while 1,221 WARN [ Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification] Notices were delivered [warning of potential layoff]
  • Eight out of 12 union contracts currently open
  • Flight benefits taken from those out on medical

Clearly, these events are a far cry from the Southwest Airlines of Herb Kelleher, who said, according to, “Your people come first, and if you treat them right, they’ll treat the customers right,” and “If you don’t treat your own people well, they won’t treat other people well. “

What do you think of the situation? Let us know in the comments.


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