Southwest Airlines ramp workers picketed outside Dallas Love Field Airport on Tuesday over the slow progress of contract talks with the Dallas-based airline.
Members of Transport Workers Union 555, which represents the ground workers for Southwest, said the union has not had a contract since 2011.
“It seems like inflation goes up year by year, and we get no raise over these years,” said 19-year employee DJ Jones.
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And they said there has also been a decline in customer service.
According to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Southwest now ranks ninth among airlines in mishandled baggage.
Still, travelers at Love Field on Tuesday said they are not having problems.
“Everything has been the same. I have always flown Southwest. I would not change it,” said Whitney Williamson.
Southwest released a statement about both the picket and the baggage:
"We continue to share the Unions sense of urgency to secure a fair agreement. Reaching the right deal for both Employees and the Company remains a top priority; and it must be one that is fair to all Employees, enables the Company to grow, and protects our position as a low-cost leader in the industry. We have always supported, and will continue to support, our Employees’ right to express their opinions. Informational picketing is a common practice during negotiations and will not impact our operations.
Regarding bag delivery, the packing habits of Southwest passengers have not changed for decades. Going as far back as the 1980s, Southwest carried an average of 80 bags per 100 passengers, and this fundamental fact remains true today. When our competitors added bag fees, the average number of bags carried on other airlines did decrease, which helped improve the DOT rankings of the competition.
Although passengers are carrying the same number of bags, our Bags Fly Free policy does attract more Customers to Southwest – improving the bottom line. That being said, staffing has increased at a higher rate than bags handled and today, the annual number of bags handled per Ramp Agent has declined.
We continue our focus on improving baggage delivery. In October, we proudly delivered 99.5 percent of our bags correctly, thanks to the performance of our outstanding ramp agents."