Southwest Baggage Handlers at Orlando Airport Demand Higher Pay
The baggage handlers and operations agents call the airline company “a machine without a heart.” Southwest, known for its free baggage policy, now has bigger airplanes, more customers, and greater sales. Some of its workers want higher wages to support the cost of living.
“Historically, Southwest has put the employees first and the employees take care of the customers. The customers come back. The shareholders are happy. It doesn’t need to be profits over people,” said Charles Cerf, president of Transportation Workers Union Local 555, which represents 300 workers in Orlando.
Cerf said 40% of the union’s members haven’t received a pay increase since 2010.
“We always have done more with less. Southwest is now expanding to larger aircrafts. We’re still working some of those larger planes—the 800 series aircraft—with one person in the rear bend,” he said.
Judy Trier, who lives in Orlando, was surprised to see the picket on her way to board a flight to New York. She flies Southwest all the time to visit her family.
“The fares are reasonable, and that’s why I fly them all the time, but if they’re not getting paid what everyone else is getting paid, then they should,” she said.
In an email statement, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines said its agents have “the highest pay rates in the industry” and that base salaries continue to rise.
The Transport Workers Union is planning another picket on December 23rd at airports across the country, including Orlando. Organizers said it will not affect travel.
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