SEIU-USWW airport members have been busy engaging Southwest Airlines around their use of irresponsible non-union contractors. Airport workers launched a public petition and passed out flyers at ten airports across the state (plus Hawaii!) asking passengers to tell Southwest CEO Gary C Kelly to respect our rights at work and assure that the safety of our airports is the priority, and not just profits.
Southwest Airlines enjoyed $2.5 billion in 2018 profits due in part to all the contracted airport workers who carry baggage, push people in wheelchairs, clean cabins and secure airport safety checkpoints. Yet, behind its friendly public image, Southwest isn’t showing any “LUV” to airport workers. Southwest recently contracted out what used to be good union jobs to companies like S.A.S. Services Group, whose owners have been cited for nearly $1,000,000 in wage theft at LAX.
“I’ve worked for thirteen years doing security work,” said LAX employee Maria Romero. “But when Southwest Airlines switched our jobs to S.A.S. Services, we lost our seniority and the stability of knowing what jobs we’re being asked to do day to day. We even lost most of our health insurance. This has had a big impact on my ability to afford my prescription eye glasses, which I need to monitor security cameras. Passengers are depending on our ability to see details, so why won’t they cover us to have updated eye prescriptions?”
SEIU airports members from LAX, SFO and Denver also travelled to the Southwest Airlines shareholder meeting, making noise both inside and outside of the meeting. Workers carried signs that say ‘Show us some LUV: health care, fair wages, union rights’ and handed out a spoof version of Southwest’s drink coupons that urge the public to tell Southwest that #PovertyDoesntFly. Maria Romero and LAX member Tim Maddox went inside and addressed CEO Gary Kelly face to face around the issues workers are facing.
Airport members plan more actions on June 18 at LAX and SFO for Southwest’s birthday: everyone is encouraged to join and participate. When We Fight We Win!