Southwest Airlines’ Tough Patch Could Get a Lot Worse, Especially for the Mechanics Union

For almost a month, Southwest Airlines and its passengers have been dealing with hundreds of flight cancellations a day.Don’t blame the weather -- not when aircraft are being flagged for broken arm rests and tape on cargo bins. Or my favorite violation: missing a row number on an airline that doesn’t assign seats.Southwest mechanics, who are frustrated by stalled contract talks and outsourcing, say this is all about safety and complying with the rules. Management says it’s a write-up campaign to boost Southwest’s current contract offer.Late last week, Southwest sued to stop the activity. And if the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association doesn’t fly straight, things could get much worse for everyone, especially the union.Consider what happened 20 years ago at American Airlines. Pilots were upset about American acquiring Reno Air and staged a sickout that forced the company to file suit. A federal judge in Dallas ordered pilots back to work, but more called in sick -- and the union and top officers were held in contempt.“Unfortunately, the radical element that appears to be in control of the [union] seems determined to fly American Airlines into the side of the mountain,” U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall wrote in his contempt order.  Continue reading...

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