TWU Local 555 District 5 Cities

TWU Local 555 District 5 Representative Robert Bettinger

Robert "Wolfie" Bettinger  District 5 Representative  
LABOR DAY 2012
As I sit here writing this article I have just returned to HOU from yet another system board. This system board was for the unjust termination of a 10 year ramp agent from HOU. The company’s case, or should I say lack of a case, demonstrated the length that the HOU management team will go to terminate an employee. The thing that made this system board so revolting was the boldfaced lying of HOU’s alleged leaders. The allegation against the member was for violations of the BRC. His penalty was termination. This action allegedly occurred on June 09, 2012. The member was given a fact finding notice on June 28, 2012 and fired on July 05, 2012, all based on a supervisor write up written on July 09, 2012 (four day after the termination). I’m sorry, I forgot to mention that the company had full knowledge of the incident on June 13, 2012. The union filed a page 2 grievance for the member indicating a time frame violation. The system board was held on September 7, 2012. During the system board the HOU management team came up with numerous lies that were proven to be untrue and yet mysteriously the system board deadlocked. I am sorry but this is a travesty of justice. The member should have been given his job back with full back pay at the conclusion of the system board. (Also, the MRO should have been fired for lying on the stand). Currently the case is scheduled to proceed forward to arbitration. I am sorry, but this is just unbelievable. He should have never been fired based on the company’s violation of time frames alone. Arbitrations should be reserved for only the truly tough cases that neither side can clearly convince the system board players, rather than in a case such as this where the manager is busted lying not once, but twice! If this is not bad enough, let’s look at the current contract negations. If you have, and I hope you have, been following the updates then you should realize that we are getting screwed. The company has taken the position of taking, taking, taking and giving nothing back. SWA proposed an absence management plan that they claim is in the best interest of us and the company. One would question, if the plan is so good they why did they not institute it amongst themselves before trying to force it down our throats? (Not to mention the plan itself being totally ridiculous.) What about the rewards for our hard work being covered with raises? Sorry, under the company’s proposal increases in salary would be based on profitability. The profitability mythology, if implemented, would have prohibited any raise’s we would have received last year even though we had record breaking profits. Like I said, this company is asking us for more concession than are asked of employees of companies that are facing bankruptcies. Of other notable items, SWA has notified TWU 555 that they are going to contract out the ramp in a couple of new locations that have 12 or fewer flights a day. This is not a breach of the contract but rather a breach of the culture ofSWA. Never before has SWA contracted out our work and this is just the start. This is unbelievable! Contract workers did not make SWA the best airline in the world. You and every member of TWU 555 did and this is the thanks we get for our hard work. By the time you are reading this we should have announced our desire to go to mediation. The reason we have asked for mediation is because in the talks between TWU 555 and SWA, the company has forgotten about the employees. The idea of being in mediation shows you how troubled labor relations have become with the company. Mediation, like arbitration, is never the preferred solution, but unfortunately it is what we are facing. As I travel the district numerous agents have asked me how long I think this contract will take. My answer is until we get a good contract that will benefit each and every member, no matter what it takes. We are determined to continue to fight for you the membership with whatever means it takes to get the contract we deserve. Now what can you the membership do to help get the contract we deserve? Do what come easiest: stay informed, wear you union pins, read your updates, educate other members who do not understand. Most of all keep being the best employee you can be. We are not trying to break the company. Rather, we are just trying to get what we all deserve. We have made SWA the best and most profitable airline in the world and we expect to be treated the same.
 
Robert Bettinger

robert.bettinger@twu555.org