Pilots and flight attendants using labor muscle to negotiate contracts

Pilots and flight attendants using labor muscle to negotiate contracts

The skies over the U.S. have grown turbulent both literally, and in terms of labor disputes. 

“The last thing we want to do is go on strike,” said Paul Hartshorn, the spokesperson for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, unions for pilots and flight attendants at major airlines have voted time and again to authorize strikes amid contract negotiations. Pickets outside the country’s biggest airports have become almost commonplace. 

“Not having contracts and then seeing your peers close contracts and reward their employees for what they did in 2021 and 2022, and even this summer in 2023. And it says a lot about, you know, our leadership that we are still negotiating, and we’ve been negotiating longer than any,” said Casey Murray, the president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.

Most recently, it was Southwest’s pilots who voted in May to authorize a strike and conducted a first-ever multi-airport picket last week. They’re now in mediation talks with their management.  

“215 pilots have left just this year — compare that to 571 that have left since 1971. So it is a huge number and it’s strictly because we don’t have a contract. Delta, American, United all settled their contracts and we have pilots going seeking better pay, better benefits and really the most important thing is, is more reliable scheduling,” said Murray. 

Southwest Airlines told Scripps News, in part, “For 52 years, we’ve maintained a legendary Southwest culture that honors our valued employees, and we look forward to continuing that legacy.”

American Airlines is one of the companies that recently ratified a new agreement with its pilots. 

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