MIAMI – Southwest Airlines (WN) has notified nearly 7,000 workers that they could lose their jobs if labor unions do not accept certain concessions to help the airline maintain its business due to the pandemic impact.

The airline estimates that “overstaffing costs” will amount to about US$1bn in 2021. Thus, it asked unions for pay cuts of 10% in exchange for no furloughs through next year. However, there has been a lack of meaningful progress in negotiations, said WN’s top labor-relations official, Russell McCrady.

The carrier issued the legally require notifications known as WARN notices 60 days prior to the aforementioned job cuts.

Despite this warning, McCrady conceded that WN was willing to resume negotiations with unions because the goal was to save every job. According to the Chicago Tribune, 6,828 employees received the notice. These include more than 2,500 ground workers, 1,500 Transport Workers Union’s flight attendants and 1,221 Pilots who have their own union. 

its unions their members could face the first furloughs in Southwest history if they don’t accept concessions in If the situation with the unions remains on standby, these would be the first furloughs in Southwest Airlines’ history. Photo: Southwest Airlines.

Response from Unions

On his part, the President of the Pilots’ union, Jon Weaks, said that the situation was “not completely surprising” but that it was “incredibly disappointing” to Pilots and their families because of the subsequent stress that they would now have to deal with.

Adding to these declarations, the President of the flight attendants’ union Lyn Montgomery said that sending the WARN notice was either a scare tactic or an actual intent to furlough. She also claimed that there were still other options available that had not been explored.

Needless to say, the situation has raised question and brows among unions. They have proposed cost-cutting measures to WN, but the airline has rejected them by offering another round of voluntary buyouts, reported The Chicago Tribune.

Featured photo: Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 N441WN. Photo: Nick Vitolano.