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Southwest Pilots Set May Date for Strike Vote

Southwest Airlines pilots could be the latest to authorize walking the picket line, after their union set a strike vote for May 2023.
The Southwest Airlines’ Pilots Association (SWAPA) could walk off the job during the critical summer months of 2023, potentially leaving flyers vacations grounded.


In a press release, the union announced a strike authorization voting date of May 1, 2023, for pilots currently represented by the company.


Pilots Unhappy After Winter Storm Network Meltdown

In their statement, the pilots noted Southwest’s meltdown during Winter Storm Elliott as one of the causes for their strike. Combined with “the utter lack of meaningful progress on a contract negotiation,” the pilots say now is the time to consider walking off the job to force airline leaders to come to the table.


“While your Board of Directors and Executive Officers have had many strategic discussions on timing, I think it is best to consider what our customers have been through over the past several years and the past several weeks,” Casey Murray, Southwest captain and president of SWAPA, said in a letter to the airline. “It was the lack of discussion or commitment by our leadership team to rectify these issues for our passengers and our pilots that drove us to make the decision to carry forward on this path afforded to us by the Railway Labor Act.”


Pilots will have over four months to decide whether or not to vote for the strike, while the union says it gives customers plenty of time to book other carriers for their summer travel. Even with an early Summer poll date, the votes will not be counted until the end of the month, leaving flyers without clarity for weeks.


The announced strike authorization vote is the next major test for new Southwest president Bob Jordan, who took over from longtime leader Gary Kelly at the beginning of 2022. In his latest update to customers since the winter storm forced thousands of flight cancellations over the week, Jordan says they have reunited nearly all passengers with their luggage while actively working to provide crews more technological support in the event of mass network disruption.


Vote Marks Second Major Airline Strike Action in Six Months

The strike authorization vote will be the second major labor action by pilots since November 2022, when Delta Air Lines aviators represented by the Air Line Pilots Association voted to approve a walk-out. Before any pilots union can leave their jobs on strike, the National Mediation Board must agree that no further negotiations would lead towards a contract.


What are your thoughts on a Southwest Airlines pilot strike? Make your voice heard on the FlyerTalk Forums.

Nice2CU January 26, 2023

If it does happen, really sucks and hurts the company. I may still book the flights with them but now has to seriously think of backup plans. More airlines now have better policy cancelling flights. But still kind of annoying to look through the terms and book extra flights.

Ghoulish January 23, 2023

LOL, what a despicably dishonest bunch.

They cynically use the issue that angered passengers, but had zero negative $ impact on their members, to suggest they're fighting for the public interest when of course they just want more money, and are perfectly willing to screw their customers over to get it.

Here's a clue, you aren't flying for a budget airline because you're the cream of the crop. 

nd2010 January 22, 2023

Just the threat of a strike is enough to hurt Southwest without hurting the pilots. By announcing a strike so far in advance, it'll cause people to book flights on other airlines. They won't actually have to go on strike when the time comes. 

WebTraveler January 21, 2023

I am losting patience with all these labor issues

EVERYONE in America thinks they are overworked and underpaid and deserves more.

It is out of hand to be honest.