Southwest Airlines announced that 6,800 employees may be furloughed by spring due to an alleged “lack of meaningful progress” in cost-cutting negotiations with labor unions.
Southwest explained that it has asked labor groups to agree to pay cuts and other terms to avoid furloughs, but some did not agree and argued that the company did not consider their cost-cutting proposals.
The possible 6800 that would be furloughed are composed of 2,551 ground crew members who handle baggage, cargo, and restocking planes, as well as 1,176 customer service agents, 1,500 flight attendants, and 1,221 pilots.
Southwest disclosed that the furloughs would go into effect either March 15 or April 1, or within two weeks of that date, unless the carrier reaches cost-cutting agreements with unions or Congress passes additional aid for airlines.
Southwest, along with other US carriers received a total of $25 billion in federal aid earlier this year after the pandemic started with the condition that they not impose involuntary job cuts through the end of September.
Despite the aid, American Airlines and United Airlines in October furloughed more than 30,000 workers combined after the aid expired.
If Southwest continues the layoffs, they would be among the first involuntary furloughs in the carrier’s nearly 50 years of operation.
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