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Southwest Airlines flight attendants to picket at Atlanta airport over labor dispute

Union officials stated that flight attendants have experienced passenger aggression, airline technology mishaps, lack of food and rest, and threats of pay cuts.

ATLANTA — The pickets are not yet over at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, as flight attendants at Southwest Airlines will now have their voices heard in an effort to make a change.

Members of the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) Local 556, a union of more than 18,000 Southwest Airlines flight attendants, will picket outside the Atlanta airport on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 10 a.m. as they demand better pay, safety on the job and improved quality of life, according to a statement from the union.

In need of a new contract, the informational picket planned in Atlanta is just one of 11 planned across the U.S., a union official said. Frustrated flight attendants will gather at the North Terminal on the upper level by the inner and upper curbsides across from the N4, N5 and N6 doors.

“Never before in the history of Southwest Airlines have flight attendants’ working conditions deteriorated so rapidly, crippling our quality of life, devaluing our role and creating a loss of spirit,” TWU Local 556 President Lyn Montgomery told Southwest Airlines during negotiations. “Resolution can wait no longer.”

RELATED: Delta pilots picketing at Atlanta airport, other US cities ahead of Labor Day weekend

The current collective bargaining agreement that TWU holds with Southwest Airlines became amendable nearly four years ago, per the union. They state that a reason flight attendants are left without needed changes to improve their conditions at work is because of an "overwhelming number of delays" from Southwest Airlines.

TWU stated that changes are required in order to address the issues that are condemning the ability to help flight attendants guarantee passengers' safety and comfort while on board. Here are just a few:

  • Paying flight attendants for time worked, including when passengers are boarding and when flight attendants are required to work outside of hours originally scheduled. 

  • Giving flight attendants control over their personal schedules when not at work, allowing them the liberty they deserve to take care of their lives at home. 

  • Providing access to food and a safe place to rest when traveling on the job. A lack of hot food and sometimes even hotel rooms leaves flight attendants with little to eat and sometimes sleeping on the airport floor.

  • Providing benefits that actually help flight attendants, like health insurance that continues coverage when someone is injured on the job, is battling cancer or had a baby.   

“While Southwest Airlines ignores the very real needs of flight attendants sleeping on airport floors because there is nowhere to go, they asked us to take pay cuts at the height of the pandemic, mere months away from a return to profitability,” Montgomery said.

Additionally, union officials stated that flight attendants have experienced passenger aggression, airline technology mishaps, lack of food and rest, and threats of pay cuts.

 

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