From: AMFA-SWA Negotiating Committee: Earl Clark, Will Abbott, Bob Cramer, Craig Hamlett, Shane Flachman, Mike Young
Southwest Airlines (SWA) has, once again, demonstrated its lack of respect for the aircraft maintenance technician (AMT) group and our contract. The days of Herb’s SWA are long gone, and the current management would prefer to breach your contract first and arbitrate, as opposed to engaging in a productive collective bargaining relationship. It is, quite simply, disgusting.
On October 20, 2017, Landon Nitschke and Trevor Stedke delivered a memorandum to all of you addressing the ETOPS Program – specifically, in relation to the Company’s recent announcement that it intends to fly to Hawaii. In that memorandum, Landon and Trevor stated the Company’s unequivocal intention to breach our CBA as it relates to ETOPS work. The memorandum stated:
Southwest will carry out our ETOPS maintenance in our current network of Southwest hangar and line maintenance locations. We’ll employ the support of on-call Maintenance for work that needs to be accomplished outside of the contiguous 48 states.
The Company asked for this exact relief during the current prolonged Section 6 negotiations. In fact, in its June 2017 comprehensive proposal, the Company proposed the following language to be included within Article 8:
At ETOPS launch stations within the contiguous 48 states, the Company will use Southwest Technicians to perform ETOPS pre-departure checks. At ETOPS launch stations outside the contiguous 48 states, the Company may utilize on-call providers to perform ETOPS pre-departure checks.
There is simply no dispute the Company asked for relief from the existing language in our contract so that it “may” utilize on-call providers to perform ETOPS pre-departure checks outside the contiguous 48 states. The parties have not agreed to this relief sought by the Company, as we are all aware that SWA has dragged these negotiations on for more than five years and there is no tentative agreement. Now, however, as Hawaii flying and the need for ETOPS draws closer to reality, the Company would prefer to erase bargaining history and pretend that it has the contractual right to utilize on-call providers for ETOPS work. The Company negotiating committee must be hiding this clear negotiating history from the higher echelon of management at SWA, because it is simply too scary a proposition to tell the truth – the truth whereby the AMFA-SWA CBA restricts the use of these on-call vendors unless relief is granted. We understand that it is not always an easy proposition to deliver such news to your bosses – but we, as AMTs united as one, will not allow our hard-fought contract to be breached simply because the Company committee is afraid to deliver the truth.
There is a well-settled concept in contract interpretation supported by decades of arbitration case law, which provides that a party may not obtain through arbitration what it could not acquire through negotiation. There could not be a clearer example of such a violation than we have here with respect to the ETOPS issue. As such, AMFA is prepared to take every legal measure necessary to enforce its Agreement in this respect. Therefore, AMFA has filed a grievance contesting the pronouncement by Landon and Trevor that the Company intended to violate our contract and take the ETOPS relief it has not been able to negotiate. If this pronouncement by Landon and Trevor was a mistake, which could be possible given neither gentlemen have found it important enough to attend collective bargaining negotiations, we would ask them to immediately release a corrective memorandum.
We are also prepared, as we proceed closer to actual ETOPS implementation, to secure injunctive relief through the federal court system to ensure the status quo is preserved pending resolution of this issue through the grievance and arbitration process.
As we have explained on our roadshows, you must watch what this Company does because you cannot trust what it says. The Company sought contractual relief, but it has not obtained that relief. Now, however, as the need for that relief becomes visible on the horizon, the Company’s position has flip- flopped and it suddenly takes the position that it already possesses the right to use on-call vendors to perform ETOPS work as set forth in Gerry Anderson’s October 26 memorandum. The Company is wrong and it knows so, and its shifting positions and memoranda is evidence of just that.
We would like to thank everybody that we have talked to on our roadshow up to this point for attending and engaging in the process. We feel our group is united now more than ever, and we will not rest until we secure the fair contract you deserve. And, with your support, we will enforce our Agreement against the Company’s deplorable assault because we, unlike Southwest, recognize that your hard work and sweat equity have contributed to the continued success of this Company.