Robert Bettinger - District 5 Rep

Cohesively, We Can Make Things Better

First, I would like to say congratulations to our new president Greg Puriski and our new treasurer Alfonso Santoyo. I know there was a lot of confusion about the results of the election. Hopefully, it was a learning experience and we will not have to face these issues again. I also want to congratulate all of our new station representatives. All of these positions are very demanding, but I have confidence in your decisions on your representation.

I’m writing this article one day after a training class that was held in DAL for new station representatives. This training is conducted once every three years to educate and prepare new advocates for their critical role in the stations. Station representatives have a very important and demanding job. They are the first line of defense at the station level and negotiate any local agreements with management.

Please remember station representatives do not have a magic wand and cannot fix all the problems at your station overnight, although I’m sure they wish they had that ability. Your station representative’s strongest tool is you, the membership. To be an effective station representative, he/she will need your help and support. I hope you will take the time to talk to your station representative and get involved with local issues. Ask your representative what is going on in your station and how you can help. When management realizes we speak with one voice, your station representative can better represent you on grievances and other issues. If we all work cohesively, we can make things better for everyone.

We continue to have numerous grievances over basic safety rule violations. Brothers and sisters, please understand that even if you see others violate a particular safety rule everyday, it is not okay to violate the rule. I have had numerous grievances over minor safety infractions and I’ve been told by members “I should not be written up because nobody follows that rule.” The problem with that defense is we have the burden of proof and the union must prove that the rule is violated each and every day and that management knowingly allows violation of the rule. While this may very well be true, proving it is a different matter. I can guarantee you that by the time I get the grievance in front of an arbitrator, management will deny any and all knowledge of the rule being consistently violated.

Another growing concern is the reported personal days assessed for inclement weather days. If you are ever faced with the inability to get to work because of bad weather, please do not ask for a personal day. Ask to be wopped, and if management says no that it must be a personal day, then make sure you are clear that you do not agree and that you will grieve it later. There have been two arbitrators who ruled against us on personal days for inclement weather because in one case the member asked to take a reported personal day, and in another case the member did not make any effort to go to work. If you are unsure of what to do in bad weather, feel free to call your local station representative or me.

In closing, I would like to mention the memo issued by Gary Kelly on June 11th to all Southwest Airlines employees. In the first sentence Gary wrote, “My number one priority at all times is to take care of our people.” On its surface that comment sounds great, but unfortunately his actions have not supported those words. If Gary really cared about the frontline employees, we would have a contract by now. These are not just my thoughts, but based on comments posted on SWAlife by employees from various groups about Gary’s memo, many employees do not feel valued.
Thank you, and please stay safe and united.