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Southwest Airlines pilots' union president calls for strike vote

Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Capt. Casey Murray called for a May 1 strike authorization vote. Wednesday. Pictured are hundreds of pieces of luggage at the Southwest Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on December 27 during disruptions that saw 15,000 Southwest flights being canceled. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 2 | Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Capt. Casey Murray called for a May 1 strike authorization vote. Wednesday. Pictured are hundreds of pieces of luggage at the Southwest Airlines terminal at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles on December 27 during disruptions that saw 15,000 Southwest flights being canceled. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, called Wednesday for a strike authorization vote asserting a lack of progress in contract negotiations for pilots.

"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," Murray said in a statement.

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"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."

The strike authorization vote will happen May 1, according to the SWAPA. The votes will be counted at the end of May.

"We believe that May 1 provides a date that allows our union time to prepare and gives our customers time to book elsewhere, so that they can have confidence that their summer vacations, honeymoons, and family outings are assured," Casey said.

He said a strike vote is not a decision taken lightly by the pilots' union.

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In a Tuesday statement, Southwest Airlines President Bob Jordan acknowledged "operational issues" and said "our immediate task has been to stabilize operation."

On Jan. 3, SWAPA blasted executives at Southwest for a lack of leadership, blaming them for the meltdown that canceled more than 15,000 Southwest Airlines flights.

SWAPA represents more than 10,000 pilots at Southwest Airlines.

In April 2022, the union warned the airline that Southwest had not kept up with surging transportation demands in regard to hiring and working conditions, creating fatigue issues among pilots.

SWAPA said then that "operational mismanagement" has negatively impacted every front-line Southwest employee as well as customers.

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