TRANSIT WORKERS PRESIDENT ON THE SOUTHWEST AIRLINES DEBACLE: GREED AND PROFITS RULE–HE PAINTS THE PICTURE FOR THE SENATE COMMERCE COMMITTEE

Hits: 406

Washington, DC — Ahead of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing on “Strengthening Airlines Operations and Consumer Protections,” John Samuelsen, International President of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) issued this statement:

“As the Senate Commerce Committee today examines the series of events that led to the worst operational meltdown in the history of Southwest Airlines, the Transport Workers Union of America encourages lawmakers to focus their attention on what we know to be the cause of this catastrophe – corporate neglect and an undying lust for profits by Southwest Airlines executives.

“While the Southwest meltdown was initially triggered by a severe weather event and further sustained by outdated, overwhelmed technology, Southwest’s leadership must accept blame and take full responsibility for a national crisis that left tens of thousands of passengers stranded for days on end, jeopardized the health and safety of thousands of employees, and caused an untold number of passengers tremendous mental anguish and financial distress.

“Southwest is the largest commercial air carrier in the United States, but it continues to rely on antiquated phone systems, eccentric computer programs, and IT processing capabilities that date back to the 1990s.

Instead of taking steps to upgrade these systems, executives chose to spend $5.6 billion on corporate buybacks in the three years leading up to this crisis.

All of this, in spite of the fact that TWU-represented Southwest Airlines workers, including flight attendants at TWU Local 556, fleet service workers at TWU Local 555, and flight dispatchers and meteorologists at TWU Local 550, have been sounding the alarm for years about the impacts of running a world-class airline on outdated, insufficient technology.

“What’s more, the vast majority of work groups at Southwest, who for years have made this carrier profitable and sustained it during the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, are still without secured, fair contracts.

“Southwest Airlines wants its passengers and employees to feel the LUV, but LUV flew out the window at Southwest the day Gary Kelly arrived, and the moment corporate executives chose profits over people.”

Comments are closed.