The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has issued this statement against Southwest Airlines (Dallas):
After more than two years of direct talks with Southwest Airlines, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced it will file for mediation with the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal agency that oversees contract negotiations in the airline industry.
“Southwest earned nearly a billion dollars last year, is on pace to report a larger profit for this year, has the most productive workforce in the airline industry and yet refuses to offer any real improvements,” said IAM District 142 President Tom Higginbotham. “Management is hell-bent to move to a risky variable compensation system as opposed to offering guaranteed wage increases. It’s clear this is a numbers oriented airline instead of a people oriented airline.”
Coupled with Southwest’s deteriorating labor relations, the carrier’s operational performance has plummeted. The carrier has among the worst on-time arrival rate in the airline industry, it ranks among the bottom in mishandled baggage and hovers at the top of the airline industry in denied boardings.
“Southwest has merged its way to super-profits and is doing everything it can to stonewall its employees from sharing fairly in the success they’ve worked so hard to create,” continued Higginbotham. “This is greed, pure and simple and the IAM will not stand for it.”
If the IAM’s application for federal mediation is granted by the NMB, the agency then begins the process of attempting to resolve the differences between the parties via mediated discussions. If no agreement can be reached through mediation, the Railway Labor Act (RLA)—the federal law that governs collective bargaining in the airline industry—has several mechanisms to bring both sides together, including arbitration and a possible strike.
The IAM represents approximately 6,000 passenger service and reservation agents at the carrier and has never before had to utilize the NMB’s mediation services to achieve an agreement with Southwest.
The IAM represents over 100,000 workers in the airline and railroad sectors and is the largest transportation union in North America.
Meanwhile Southwest issued this statement about “listening” to its internal and external customers through a new “Listening Center”:
On August 26 Southwest Airlines unveiled a Listening Center devoted to engaging with Employees and Customers in real time. Located at Southwest Airlines Headquarters in Dallas, the Listening Center is the first of its kind in the domestic airline industry. It serves as the airline’s nerve center, integrating traditional media, social media, and operational data to allow various functions to move quickly and efficiently from insight to action.
The Listening Center is staffed seven days a week with Southwest Employees from the Customer Relations, Communication, and Marketing departments. The Employees are available around the clock to answer questions, engage with Customers, and share feedback across the organization to enhance the Customer experience.
“The Listening Center symbolizes our commitment to listening to our internal and external Customers, and taking that feedback to make smarter business decisions,” said Linda Rutherford, Vice President Communication & Outreach at Southwest Airlines. “As we continue to evolve as a social business, we’ll connect with our Employees and Customers in ways that are meaningful to them.”
The Listening Center works closely with Southwest’s Network Operations Control center (NOC), and has staffed a satellite Listening Center within the heart of the NOC to relay real-time feedback from Customers as operational challenges arise. The satellite Listening Center allows Employees on the Social Media Team to proactively communicate with Customers as operational updates become available.
“The best companies are innovating at the speed of the customer,” said Scott McCorkle, chief executive officer, Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. “Utilizing our technology, Southwest Airlines is connecting with their customers to deliver a phenomenal customer experience.”
Southwest Airlines is regarded as a pioneer in the social media space and has been recognized in many ways for embracing social technologies. The Nuts About Southwest Blog is a PR News Hall of Fame inductee, and many social media campaigns and Social Media Team members have been awarded best-in-class recognitions.
The Listening center was designed by Corgan and built by Structure Tone. The visualizations displayed within the facility are powered by Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud’s Radian6 Command Center and Crowd Reactive. The technology allows Southwest to quickly identify hot topics, influencers, trends, and consumer-generated media.
Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 737-8H4 N8305E (msn 36683) touches down in Las Vgeas.