SocraticGadfly: Do Southwest's pilots have a leg to stand on, esp. after their apparent sickout?

October 11, 2021

Do Southwest's pilots have a leg to stand on, esp. after their apparent sickout?

Last week, Southwest, the last of the major airlines, said it too will meet the Dec. 8 deadline for President Biden's vaccination mandate.

UPdate on that! On Sunday, Oct. 8, per Twitter, Southworst was having to scrub shitloads of flights the whole weekend. Official PR aside, word on the tarmac from some is a sickout by its pilots protesting the mandate. Southwest has a pilots union separate from most other major airlines, and it's been hardnosed in a variety of often good ways. That said, some Twitterati, especially as rumors of a sympathy strike by air traffic controllers bubbled up, said remember St. Ronald of Reagan and PATCO. That also said, SWAPA says its pilots are NOT doing an official OR unofficial sickout.

OTOH, remember that unions can spout PR bullshit just like corporations. And, they not only can, they do.

Per this story, the pilots are claiming that the National Railway Act, which governs union-management issues on airlines as well as railroads, requires negotiations. That cuts BOTH WAYS. Southwest's pilots have shown about zero interest in negotiating. See the NLRB's explainer, first bullet point. And, yes, SWAPA, I can google!

I really don't think they have a leg to stand on. If things get nasty, Southwest might ask for legal discovery on individual pilots social media accounts, vis a vis any possible sickout.

Part of the pilots' original August lawsuit may have merit. But the mandate? I doubt it. 

And, United's pilots have no problems with the mandate, nor does United's full employee fleet:

It's that simple, SWAPA.

Update, Nov. 7: Texas Monthly discusses what all is behind all the recent Southwest (and American) flight cancellations, and says it's not all COVID, and certainly not likely a sickout at Southwestern. BUT? The Monthly ignores United.

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