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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a… Rat?


TWU officials, tired of negotiating with Southwest for a new contract for more than two years, pulled out “the rat” at Love Field.

Passengers at Dallas Love Field (DAL) got a bit of an eyeful on Tuesday when the Transport Workers Union (TWU) picketed Southwest Airlines with a giant inflatable rat.

The TWU Local 555 and Southwest have been negotiating a new contract since 2011, according to a report from the Dallas Morning News. The two parties have also attempted to use the National Mediation Board, but that group pulled out of negotiations due to lack of progress. This was the second time in three weeks the union staged a demonstration at DAL, and one of 16 other stations targeted on Tuesday.

The inflatable rat — representing airline management — is a popular tool used by TWU during demonstrations. It was first used in 2011, when the union demonstrated against Qatar Airways in New York City.

“Southwest Airlines is making record profits and this would not be possible without the hardworking members of TWU Local 555,” the union stated in a message to its members on Monday. The dividing point centers around senior employees at the top of their pay scale who have not received raises in several years.

Bob Hughes, a spokesman for Southwest, released a statement to the Dallas Morning News arguing that Southwest employees are some of the highest paid in the industry, citing agents with less than 12 years seniority with the airline who continue to receive guaranteed annual raises.

“Our top-of-scale ramp, operations, provisioning and cargo agents have not only kept pace with the cost of living, but they earn eight to 45 percent more than their counterparts at other airlines,” said Hughes. “From 2000 until now, during which time our competitors slashed pay and benefits, our base rates for our employees have increased more than 37 percent.”

Hughes noted that there have been numerous offers presented, but they have all been rejected. TWU Local 555 president, Charles Cerf, told the Dallas Morning News during a demonstration last month that there are a number of unresolved issues, including pay, benefits, work rules and outsourcing.

[Photo: Rose Baca via Dallas Morning News]

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BearX220 December 19, 2014

That rat gets around. I've seen it in the streets of NY and Washington DC too.