October 23, 2020, via electronic and US mail
Anthony Wafer Senior Director Labor Relations
Southwest Airlines Co.
2702 Love Field Drive
Dallas, TX 75235
Matter: Contractual Commitments Prevent Furlough Of AMFA-Represented Employees
Ref. 1) October 6, 2020, letter, G. Kelly to Union Representatives
2) October 9, 2020, memo, A. Wafer to AMFA Representatives
3) October 16, 2020, SWA Life Posting by A. Wafer
4) October 21, 2020, Letter, AMFA Representatives to A. Wafer
Dear Mr. Wafer:
The purpose of this letter is to clarify the Aircraft Mechanic Fraternal Association’s (AMFA) position and place Southwest Airlines, Co. (Southwest or Company) on notice regarding potential violations of the current collective bargaining agreements (contract or CBA) between AMFA and Southwest for the Mechanics and Related, Facilities Maintenance Technicians, and Aircraft Appearance Technicians.
All three contracts clearly and specifically prohibit the Company from engaging in any reduction in force of employees covered by the three CBA’s referenced herein. However, beause there have been no furloughs to date, nor has the Company noticed any reduction in force to date, but has instead raised the threat of furloughs, this letter serves to put the Company on notice. Please be advised, therefore, if the Company intends to actually furlough any AMFA-represented members under any of its three contracts, AMFA requests advance notice so that it may timely demand expedited arbitration(s) under the applicable contract(s), and/or seek other legal enforcement as necessary, prior to any AMFA-represented employee being separated from employment.
Earlier this month CEO Kelly wrote to all Southwest Unions about the financial situation in the wake of the expiration of the CARES Act Payroll Support Program at the end of September. (Ref. 1). He stated that absent concessions “you are choosing to send WARN notices to our People on November 1.” (Id.). On September 8, AMFA representatives met in a Zoom meeting, at the Company’s request and the Company presented concessionary demands. AMFA later rejected the Company’s concessionary proposal in favor of exploring cost saving measures that did not require contractual changes. On October 9, you issued a memo to AMFA members stating that if AMFA agreed to contract concessions then “in exchange” employees would get “furlough protection.” (Ref. 2). On October 15, AMFA representatives again met in a Zoom meeting at the Company’s request. AMFA continued to reject Southwest’s demands for contract concessions and again suggested evaluating options related to reducing the maintenance outsourcing footprint in order to reduce costs. Notwithstanding this suggestion, the next day you posted to all AMFA members that “we are no closer to an agreement to save jobs and prevent significant displacements.” (Ref. 3). On October 21, AMFA Representatives wrote you with a list of information requests to facilitate the costing of AMFA’s outsource reduction suggestion. (Ref. 4).
It is undisputed that approximately eighty cents ($0.80) of every dollar allocated for aircraft maintenance is currently outsourced, as is a large percentage of its Appearance Technician work, and an even higher percentage of its Facilities Maintenance work. It is also undisputed the Company declined to pursue available additional CARES Act loans that would have provided billions of dollars in additional financial support, but would have prevented or restricted future stock dividends or share buy-backs, which the Company has a long history of all the way up until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The contractual context for this letter is the following and will be broken out by the applicable CBA:
Mechanics and Related (Grey Book)
Article 2, Paragraph 3 of the Mechanics and Related CBA (May 17, 2019 – August 16, 2024) (“Grey Book”) provides, in relevant part, that “[t]he Company will not contract out work when such contracting results, or will result, in a reduction in force for any Employee covered by this Agreement.” It also contains an expedited arbitration option available to the Union. Furthermore, Paragraph 6 of Letter of Agreement No. 1, provides in relevant part that “[t]he Company agrees to maintain no less than an authorized headcount of 2.75 in the Mechanic … work group per aircraft ratio …”. Neither of these contractual obligations are subject to a force majeure or “act of God” language. There may exist additional reduction in force protections contained in the Grey Book not set forth herein, and AMFA reserves all positions and/or arguments related thereto.
Facilities Maintenance Technicians (Red Book)
Article 3, Paragraph 3 of the Facilities Maintenance Technicians CBA (November 16, 2017 – November 16, 2022) (“Red Book”) provides, in relevant part, that “[t]here will be no reduction in force (involuntary furlough) among Employees covered by this Agreement so long as the Company continues to contract out any Facilities Maintenance Technician work that covered Employees are qualified to perform.” This obligation is not subject to a force majeure provision. It is, however, subject to an expedited arbitration option at the Union’s election. There may exist additional reduction in force protections contained in the Red Book not expressly set forth herein, and AMFA reserves all positions and/or arguments related thereto.
Aircraft Appearance Technicians (Green Book)
Article 2, Paragraph 3 of the Appearance Technician CBA (currently extended) (“Green Book”) provides, in relevant part, that “[t]he Company will not contract out work when such contracting results, or will result, in a reduction in force for any Employee covered by this Agreement.” This promise is not subject to a force majeure exception and is subject to an expedited arbitration option at the Union’s election. There may exist additional reduction in force protections contained in the Green Book not expressly set forth herein, and AMFA reserves all positions and/or arguments related thereto.
Please be advised AMFA intends to enforce its contractual protections against any proposed and/or noticed reduction in force of its members and will do so in accordance with the expedited arbitration provisions contained in the relevant contracts. Furthermore, 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 CBA’s.
Do not hesitate to contact me directly with any questions or concerns.
AMFA National Executive Committee
AMFA Airline Representatives, AMFA Locals 4, 11, 18, 32
Russell McCrady, SWA Russell.Mccrady@wnco.com
Kurt Kinder, SWA Kurt.Kinder@wnco.com