Time for the Game-Playing to End
This is my first article as your TWU Local 555 president, and I’m humbled and honored to serve.
Since May 1st, I’ve spent a lot a time listening, observing, reading, researching, and basically trying to get up to speed on all our union’s business. I can tell you, it’s been an incredible task, but one that has left me with enormous pride in what our members, our union, and our company have achieved.
My main goal is to negotiate a new contract. Four years is too long! At the time this article is being written, there has been some dialogue with company leaders, so I’m hopeful there will be a tentative agreement for your approval/disapproval by the time this newsletter is distributed. If there is not a tentative agreement, then I’ll tell you in advance that is most definitely not because your union has not exhausted every possible effort to reach an agreement.
We all know that labor/management relations have deteriorated over the years, and one of my goals is to facilitate change that will improve our members’ work environment and improve the grievance process, which I think we all know is broken. I am not new to our union, but as your president, I’ve been privy to additional information that is appalling. We must stop approaching issues/grievances as a game. This is not about one-upping each other. It is not about a “win” or a “loss.” We are dealing with people’s lives, their careers and families, and it is inexcusable to see some issues dealt with so cavalierly. I’ve witnessed Basic Principles of Conduct violations stretched to make a minor infraction fit in order to justify terminating members; ridiculous debates on what a word means; long, arduous fights on simple overtime bypass issues; members truly fearful everyday at work because of the possibility of being disciplined for a simple mistake; and the list goes on.
Last week, I met a member who actually lost money coming to DAL for a system board regarding an overtime bypass. He missed out on more overtime coming to DAL for the hearing than he would would have received if he’d cut his losses and dropped the grievance, but he had seen this contractual violation happen too many times and didn’t want it to happen again, so he had to go forward. The company spent a lot more defending their stance against his grievance than if they had just paid the member for the bypass. The company had to cover two agents’ shifts with overtime, plus the time for at least three managers, one admin, and one supervisor. This is ridiculous! This is not a game about who wins or loses. I would also like to point out that this waste of money and resources is my profit sharing, and that’s important to me because my wife and I are both Southwest Airlines employees.
I wish I could say that all the problems are due to the company, but that would not be the truth; we are not perfect and we make mistakes, too. However, I can at least say with certainty that the aggressive approach our union takes is the direct result of how our frontline members are treated by the company.
In the end, though, pointing fingers is useless, so let’s knock it off and quit playing games. As your president, I will do my very best to make sure that your union deals in issues with integrity and in your best interest, and I’ll hold the company accountable when they “play games” or deal with our members unjustly. I ask that you do the same. You are the best in the industry, so keep doing your job to the best of your ability.
In closing, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to our former President Charles Cerf. We appreciate his 25 years of dedicated service. Always the professional, Chuck was kind enough to spend time with me to assist in the transition. Thank you, brother!