Southwest workers pan plan to use temps- Dallas Morning News

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Uncategorized

Mar. 29, 2013

Southwest Airlines Co. ground workers picketed at Dallas Love Field and other airports Thursday to protest the carrier’s desire to hire temporary employees on the ramp.

Transport Workers Union Local 555 president Charles Cerf said the airline wants to be able to outsource up to 20 percent of its ground work to temporary workers. Based on the 9,400-plus TWU members in Local 555, that could allow close to 2,000 temporary workers, he said.

“At Southwest, what makes us different is it’s always been our employees doing the work and giving the customers that legendary customer service,” Cerf said. “We’re concerned about outsourcing and bringing in people that don’t have a vested interest in Southwest.”

The union, which represents the airline’s ramp, operations, provisioning and freight agents, has been in contract talks with Dallas-based Southwest for 19 months. The National Mediation Board is now assisting in the negotiations.

The union and company in March 2009 approved the current contract, which became amendable on July 1, 2011.

Southwest said in a statement that it was aware that the employees were participating in informational picketing, which is often part of labor negotiations.

“We have always supported, and will continue to support, our employees’ right to express themselves,” the carrier said. “Southwest will continue to actively participate in negotiations as we make every effort to reach agreements with our unions that are rewarding, flexible and secure: Ones that provide wage and benefit levels that are fair to employees, allow Southwest to be competitive and ensure our long-term success.”

Cerf said the union is also seeking cost-of-living raises, but Thursday’s picketing focused on the issue of hiring contract employees during summers and other peak travel periods.

“We don’t think that’s good for the communities that we serve, because the contract workers make very little money and have no future,” Cerf said. “We don’t think their responsibilities to the customer and to the airline will be what it is today with Southwest employees.”

He said the union hasn’t responded with a counteroffer to the airline’s outsourcing proposal. “There’s no compromise that our members see as far as letting other people do our work.”

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