Southwest Airlines ground member employees picketed the company’s costly passenger delays at San Diego International Airport Tuesday.
TWU Local 555 members protested the airline’s move to cram more flights into its schedule without expanding its fleet. The move, the workers said, shortchanges employees and put costly delays on passengers.
The union members ramp workers who handle baggage for Southwest customers.
"In the past, Southwest has been a successful company for all stakeholders because of a culture that valued workers and put a premium on industry-leading customer service," TWU Local 555 President Charles Cerf said in a press release. "Under current leadership, both customers and workers have been devalued."
The union representatives said they were concerned with current management practices. The workers claim they have not seen an increase in their pay for most ground workers in four years, despite the company’s steadily increasing workloads.
Southwest issued a response on its website, saying it supports its employees and their right to express their opinions.
The statement said in part:
"Ramp, Operations, Provisioning, and Cargo Agents at Southwest have the highest pay rates in the industry. Agents with less than 12 years seniority continue to receive guaranteed annual raises. Our top-of-scale Agents have not only kept pace with the cost of living, but they continue to earn eight to 45 percent more than their counterparts at other airlines. From 2000 until now, during which time our competitors slashed pay and benefits, our base rates for our Employees have increased more than 37 percent."
TWU Local 555 has been in negotiations with Southwest for a new contract since July of 2011, with little progress during the past three-and-a-half years.
Southwest said the picketing did not impact its operations.