The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association union has filed suit in federal court against Southwest, alleging that the Dallas-based carrier violated federal labor law.
The complaint claimed that Southwest implemented an “emergency time off” program, altered schedules, and scaled back prescription drug and retirement benefits without bargaining first with the union, according to Reuters News Service.
It is one of the first, if not the first, lawsuits to come out of all the pandemic-related changes and decisions that airlines have had to make over the last 18 months.
The union said Southwest should have first tried to resolve the issues through a collective bargaining agreement instead of giving itself “force majeure” rights when air travel plummeted last year.
The pilots union has already threatened to picket various airports and Southwest terminals over the winter holidays to protest against a host of issues including a grueling work schedule, a lack of food and accommodation and COVID-19 protocols.
Because of staffing issues, Southwest has already said it will trim its fall flight schedules.
The union has asked the court for an injunction, requiring Southwest to stick to the provisions of the lapsed collective bargaining agreement and negotiate the terms for an “emergency extended time off” program and COVID 19-related work conditions.
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