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Dispatchers Picket Outside Dallas Love Field Ahead of Christmas Holiday Travel

Larry Lease

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Southwest Airlines dispatchers have begun picketing amid contract disputes, all while the holiday travel season is fast approaching.Photo byOwen Lystrup/UnsplashonUnsplash

Nearly 100 off-duty Southwest Airlines dispatchers have begun picketing outside of Dallas Love Field Airport. The union representing the dispatchers says they are in a contract dispute with the Dallas-based airline, just weeks ahead of the busy Christmas travel season. TWO Local 550 represents nearly 500 Southwest Airlines flight dispatchers and their vice president Jeff Jackson told Fox 4 that the problem at hand is killing their morale. Fellow Southwest Airlines dispatcher Kevin Thurston told Fox 4:

"We're just as involved in the airline operations. We design every flight plan for every Southwest Airlines flight. Share joint operational control with every pilot in command of every Southwest Airlines flight."

Fox 4 reports that the dispatchers have not seen a new contract since 2019. Southwest says they are about culture, but these lengthy negotiations kill that culture, says Thurston. These dispatchers become just the latest group of airline industry employees to picket. Back in September, fellow Southwest Airlines flight attendants held an "informational" picket outside of Love Field over their contract dispute. Earlier this month, American Airlines flight attendants picketed outside Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Travelzoo senior editor, Gabe Saglie, told Fox 4:

"I think both sides have an interest in keeping this conversation alive in the public square, making consumers aware that these negotiations are happening."

Saglie says most of these contracts were done before the pandemic. He calls the post-pandemic world a "new era" in aviation which has highlighted new problems and concerns for employees. Southwest Airlines responded to the picketing by releasing a statement to Fox 4 saying:

Southwest Airlines respects the rights of its employees to express their opinions. We are committed to reaching a new agreement in the near term that enhances the lives of our Dispatchers.

If they reach an impasse with the airline, they could end up in mediation. The executive branch of the American government could get involved as well. Fox 4 reports that customers need to be concerned about how this proceeds, as they prepare to travel during the Christmas holiday season.

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