During a flight this week, I spoke with some flight attendants about their happiness with the carrier – some are ready to strike like their industry peers.
Some Flight Attendants Are Not Happy
Onboard a flight this week with Southwest Airlines, I had an opportunity to ask some of them onboard if they are happy at work. Southwest employees have historically been some of the most satisfied employees in the business, but as of late, several labor groups from Southwest have expressed that is no longer the case.
I used an example of American Airlines flight attendants when framing my question.
“[93% of] American Airlines flight attendants voted overwhelmingly [99.5%] to strike. Are you happy at work? Are other Southwest flight attendants happy?” – Me
“No. We are not happy. We have been waiting for a new contract for five years.” one said.
“Let me show you something.” A second FA moves across the galley and opens a compartment with their bag inside. They showed me a very large bright red baggage tag (the same size and style as a ‘remove before flight’ tag) the words in all caps: READY TO STRIKE.
They indicated that other FAs agreed and demonstrated little doubt that the union would take labor action if the airline didn’t soon come to the table with a meaningful offer.
Why So Much Unrest Across The Industry?
There are a few common themes throughout some of the labor strife that this site has covered in recent months. The first is that contracts are well behind schedule. Both Southwest and American FAs as well as pilots for both carriers have stated that contracts are long overdue.
Another reason is that the travel industry has been slammed with full flights and heavy demand for the last couple of years. Since their last contract, flight attendants have been on the front lines dealing with COVID, and passengers have become increasingly hostile. Issues with technological reliability caused an utter nightmare during the holidays for Southwest, and airlines have never been busier.
Lastly, wages don’t go as far as they used to. While raises have come under fire, there’s no question that inflation has hit every earner hard, especially those who cannot enjoy raises during that period like other employee groups.
Speaking with Southwest Airlines flight attendants this week enlightened me to their contract challenges with management. They share similar struggles with other industry peers and have warned they are ready to strike. While the labor group has not formally held a vote to strike, they appear to be very unhappy and willing to make their voices heard. Whether Southwest is able to avoid a public tussle with flight attendants remains to be seen.
What do you think?