Southwest Airlines announcement today of an "operational emergency", where the company due and interrupted a large number of flights, may have come as a surprise to the public. But anyone who has followed six years of alarm blaring over security issues from the company's Mechanical Association, Aircraft Mechanics Broker Association (AMFA), southwestern's so-called emergency, came a long time. In fact, mechanics in the association say they have increased security issues since 2015.
This week's operational emergency required the Southwest to pull more than 40 aircraft, estimated at 750, in four southwestern locations. Southwest declared the emergency after negotiations between the association and the airline, although it follows a CBS survey where the news outlet interviewed 26 air mechanics on both Southwest and American Airlines, all of which shared anecdotes about being pushed from the management for failing to report potential safety issues. Specifically, the mechanics told CBS that they were being pressured by management to overlook security issues they protested. In response, they said they had to endure threats and intimidating tactics by management to report security issues, all to get the planes in service faster. Their claims, as noted by CBS, had been supported by the Federal Aviation Administration whistleblower complaints.
These negotiations between the association and Southwest culminated in this week's PR mess for the company. In public statements, the airline has attempted to portray the association, which represents over 2,700 mechanics working on the Boeing 737 aircraft, as scapegoats for its unusually high number of overseas aircraft, delays and cancellations. In a statement by Southwest Airlines Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven on Tuesday, Van de Ven called the disturbance, and not so little related to the "emergency" to the latest negotiations.
"AMFA has a history of work disorder, and Southwest has two ongoing lawsuits against the Union," he said. "We apologize to our customers who have been undetected by this disruption."
Earl Clark, AMFA Region 1
"We can start throwing the arrows back and forth but it comes not to get us where we need to be with the problem: who is adult adult here? They are a big company, "Clark said, adding that he is not sure what constitutes an" operational emergency "for the group anyway." There have been major incidents lately, "he said, referring to where one The aircraft engine exploded and killed a passenger last year, which did not result in the business declaring an operational emergency.
These are problems with the mechanics of the AMFA led to the negotiating table in 2015, Clark said.
"There is nothing like is new, "he said." Back in 2015, the Union took the carrier's concerns over security and was blown off. It was 2015, and now we are now in 2019 with aging aircraft and weary mechanics who are done with being scared. "
What followed was more lawsuits between the two. In 2016, AMFA sued Southwest Airlines for its malicious negotiation tactics. In 2017, Southwest Airlines sued AMFA to boycott overtime shifts.
Clark told Salon that Southwest Airlines on average only 3 , 3 mechanics per flight, and that Delta and American usually run around 11 or 12 per flight.
When asked if Salon could talk to union members who worked for the southwest, the Union Director discovered that it would be difficult for them to speak to the public, then It could be the "consequences" of the airlines on these mechanics, and the association and southwest have negotiated "in good faith" for six years, he said, noting that technicians have not received wage increases at that time.
What's next is unclear, although both parties say they want to work with each other, despite the fact that a Southwest Airlines flight made an emergency landing on Thursday after reports of a blown deck. The blowout seemed to indicate the mechanic's concerns, which included bald tires; Even though Bret Oestreich, the union's national director, told Salon, he is not sure if operational emergency is related to Southwest's deficient security position. "Too many calculations to speculate," he said.