Southwest Pilots Say They’re Ready To Strike

( )- Last week, the president of Southwest Airlines’ pilots’ union called for a “historic” strike authorization vote beginning May 1.

In a statement last Wednesday, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) announced that its president, Captain Casey Murray, is calling for the strike authorization vote over the “lack of meaningful progress on a contract negotiation,” specifically in scheduling work rules and requests regarding information technology.

According to the statement, once released from the period when employees can strike or management can lock employees out, the pilots will be able to vote on whether or not to walk off the job.

In responding to SWAPA’s announcement, Adam Carlisle, vice president of labor relations for Southwest Airlines, released a statement assuring customers that the call for a strike authorization vote would not affect the airline’s operations or its “ability to take care of our Customers.”

Carlisle said the airline would continue to “follow the process outlined in the Railway Labor Act and would work with the National Mediation Board to reach an agreement with the pilots that “places them competitively in the industry” the statement read.

According to Carlisle, the union’s possible vote would not “hinder our ongoing efforts at the negotiating table.”

Mediation resumed on January 24.

The news comes nearly a month after the Christmas travel disaster during which thousands of Southwest travelers were stranded when the airline slashed its flight schedule.

In an interview with ABC News last month, SWPAP President Murray described the meltdown as “catastrophic” and “failure at every level at Southwest.” Murray said Southwest’s processes, IT, and infrastructure were unable to “support the operation” and it was the customers who paid the price.

Just one day before SWAPA announced the call for a strike authorization vote, the airline released its plans for preventing future operations shutdowns, including upgrades to its systems and technology and providing supplemental staffing.

Southwest said it was also working with a third-party consulting firm to develop more safeguards.