Southwest Airlines pilots sue over work changes during pandemic

Lowe Llaguno /

The pilots union of Southwest Airlines (LUV) have sued the carrier, claiming that the rules that have been put in place by the airline before and during the pandemic have changed their pay rates and work rules, in violation of federal labor law.

Some of these work condition changes included an “emergency” time-off program, and the airline no longer paying pilots during the quarantine period following COVID-19 exposure. 

The pilots union says that changes that can affect pay or working conditions must be negotiated before implementation, but that Southwest has already made unilateral changes even while the two sides were still at the bargaining stage.

“Southwest Airlines (LUV), like the rest of the industry, has been forced to respond to the unpredictable challenges presented by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The airline disagrees with SWAPA’s claims that any COVID-related changes over the past few months required negotiation,” Russell McCrady, Southwest Airlines Vice President of labor relations said in a statement to the press.

The lawsuit comes as tensions arise between Southwest’s workers and management.  The airline also announced last week that it would cut back its daily flight schedule for September and October of 2021, following a summer full of delayed and cancelled flight operations.

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