November 18, 2020
To All AMFA Members at Southwest Airlines:
Southwest Airlines, under its current leadership, showed its true colors today. Those colors paint a picture of a company engaged in textbook crisis capitalism. As you are now aware, Southwest sent WARN Act notices to 403 of our members today. In addition, Southwest sent notices of possible displacement to more than 1,000 of our members. To be clear, if you received a WARN Act notice, this does not mean you will be furloughed. The Company must comply with this federal law and its 60-day notice provision in order to preserve the ability, under that federal law, to follow through with its threatened furloughs. Southwest made the decision to send these notices to our members despite the fact we were still engaged in productive dialogue as recent as Monday of this week (November 16) identifying savings already recognized from our group and pinpointing additional cost reductions that do not require opening our CBA’s. Unfortunately, the Company seems more interested in stoking fear than actually identifying mutually beneficial cost savings measures that would allow the Company to weather the remainder of this pandemic.
Since our last update on October 15, 2020, we have continued to engage with the Company in order to focus on potential savings concepts that would satisfy the cost reduction target set unilaterally by the Company. We have repeatedly advised the Company it should provide cost-reduction credit for the substantial savings generated by our members and recognized by Southwest as a result of participation in the Company’s voluntary leave programs as well as through insourcing, which has occurred since the onset of this pandemic. In fact, the Company recently characterized one of these insourcing items as a “notable change” that helped “reduce our operating expense.” Yet, no credit was given to our group for that or the savings generated by your participation in the voluntary leave programs. Despite our deep and growing frustration with the Company’s fear tactics, we are open to continuing these types of discussions, and Company representatives have, as recent as today, requested the same. However, given the Company’s misguided delivery of WARN Act notices to our members, we will now also commence a legal challenge to the Company’s attempted reduction in force.
We have been in close contact with our legal and economic advisors since Gary Kelly formally announced his intent to secure contractual concessions or furlough employees. We have a strategy in place to challenge any reduction in force targeted at our members. We placed the Company on notice by letter dated October 23, 2020 that if WARN Act notices were sent to our members, we intended to utilize the expedited arbitration provisions of our CBAs in order to enforce language, among other provisions, which restricts any reduction in force so long as the Company continues to outsource our work. Our Aircraft Maintenance Technician, Facilities Maintenance Technician, and Appearance Technician workgroups are the most outsourced groups on Southwest property. We will keep you updated in the days and weeks to come as we file those grievances, proceed to expedited arbitration and defend our contracts and your livelihood against these actions. As we advised the Company on October 23, AMFA reserves the right to pursue any and all legal remedies in order to preserve the status quo while these issues are presented to and decided upon in accordance with our CBAs.
We will be communicating additional information with you in the days and weeks ahead on a number of topics related to these issues. We ask that you continue to remain informed and, as we have previously cautioned, be wary of continued fear tactics. The solidarity we built during our lengthy contract negotiation continues and the response from you, the members, to the Company’s recent actions has been one of resounding support for our Union. We, as your ALR’s, are grateful for the overwhelming support. Our unity, especially during these times, is our strength.
Your AMFA–SWA Airline Representatives