February 11, 2017
Dear AMFA–SWA Members:
As you know, AMFA is currently engaged in collective bargaining with Southwest Airlines pursuant to the Railway Labor Act (RLA). The RLA mandates that the parties are required to refrain from “self help” until released by the National Mediation Board (“NMB”) from mediation and a thirty-day cooling off period has expired. This means that during the negotiating process Southwest is prohibited from initiating a lockout or unilaterally changing the terms of our collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Southwest is also prohibited from implementing a divide and conquer strategy based on direct negotiations with our members. Based on our determination that Southwest has violated its legal obligation in this regard, we have commenced litigation against the carrier in federal court.
Conversely, AMFA-represented employees are prohibited from engaging in concerted job actions designed to create bargaining leverage. Federal courts have defined “self help” broadly to include, among other things, group overtime boycotts.
By letter dated February 10, 2017, Southwest Airlines Vice President, Labor Relations Russell McCrady, alleged that supervisors had “overheard rumors” that “AMFA members were encouraging folks to boycott work of the February 10?20, 2017, time period as part of a planned ‘Family Day’ event.” The letter further alleged that the number of employees signing up for overtime in DMX and other stations was “drastically down.”
If substantiated, such allegations could subject both AMFA and the responsible individuals to litigation culminating in court injunctions to refrain from such perceived activity, as well as discipline, including termination, of responsible individuals. Any subsequent violations of the terms of an injunction forbidding such job actions could result in the application of economic sanctions to the Association and/or implicated individuals.
AMFA did not call for or endorse any overtime boycott, and we consider any such action prior to our exhaustion of the Section 6 negotiating process to be both unlawful and contrary to the best interests of the Association. AMFA members are directed to refrain from participation in any collective effort to withhold services from the Company at this juncture. We want to say clearly and emphatically that no member should coordinate or engage in a concerted overtime ‘ban’ or boycott. Any determination not to volunteer for overtime must be on an individual basis.
Upon completion of the RLA-mandated negotiating process, a strike or other job action shall be initiated pursuant to the AMFA Constitution, which requires membership approval.
In the meantime, AMFA will proceed with its federal litigation against Southwest Airlines. If you are aware of any unilateral changes to the terms of the CBA, or any attempts by management to negotiate with you directly with respect to the terms of our future CBA, please report the incident immediately to an AMFA representative.
On Behalf of the NEC,