Friday Rant: Turbulent Labor Climate at Southwest?

As massive layoffs continue to plague the American workforce and airlines and the hospitality industry are increasingly pinched by slashes in corporate travel, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that "Southwest Pilots Reject Contract ... After posting its third straight quarterly loss in April ... nearly 51% of [Southwest's] pilots voted against a five-year proposal by the Dallas based airline that had been endorsed earlier this year by union leadership ... Southwest had offered pilots ... among the highest paid in the industry ... retroactive 2% pay increases for 2007 and 2008, in addition to a 2% pay increase in September."

Now who doesn't 'love' the swagger and glib humor of Southwest's Pilots? Heck, even their macho manual landings are entertaining (mostly). But while many of us are hunkered down doing everything possible to add value to our positions and glad to be working amidst "temporary" pay cuts and benefit reductions (if we have any to begin with), these flyboys and girls are rejecting a retroactive and current pay increase?

This is not the time to say "where's mine?". Personal greed has been a major contributor to the mess we now find ourselves in and its persistence will only elongate the downturn. What if unions rejected pay increases in favor of earmarked investment in greater spend visibility to ensure their company's survival? Now that would be thinking outside the cockpit.

William Busch

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