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The Heart of SWA

The Heart of SWA

May 16, 2023
It’s said that if the road you’re on is easy, you’re probably going the wrong way. If that’s true, we’re definitely on the right path.

Without a doubt, the last several years have been paved with challenges. Yet through each one, we as a Pilot group have emerged victorious. As Southwest Airlines has continued to stumble, each of you has provided a shoulder on which to prop them up. Through years of failing leadership, failing foresight, a “culture of denial” (as COO Andrew Watterson called it), and worst of all, a failure to learn from past mistakes, you and every frontline employee have weathered more and more adversity. You have become even stronger as you have provided the tools that Southwest needs to turn the tide of these failures.

The hardest times in our lives lead to the greatest moments. It’s in difficulty that we adapt and grow stronger. And I say that in regard to both Southwest and each of you. As such, I’m extremely confident about our long-term success, but like it or not, in the short term, we will have many more growth opportunities.

I’m not just speaking about Union rhetoric. SWAPA has provided years of data and analysis. We have proven objectively that the Company’s path is not a sound one. Your Union has demonstrated that management’s lack of accountability and their inability to innovate has brought us to this point. As long as Southwest is concentrating their efforts on not failing, winning is impossible. 

On the eve of the shareholder’s meeting that will almost certainly reward not the very people who have carried this Company for the last few years but instead those who have contributed to its failures, you, as the onsite leaders, have spoken loud and clear that you share SWAPA’s dissatisfaction with the current Southwest leadership and their aimless trajectory. From May 1 to May 11, 98% of SWAPA Pilots participated in the SAV and of those voting, 99% voted YES to authorize a strike. Within the first six hours of the SAV opening, more than 80% of you voted YES for your brothers and sisters, for SWAPA, and for Southwest Airlines.

Using the Company’s talking points, management has said that the SAV is nothing more than a Union tactic and it’s just another part of the negotiating process. But what we frontline employees have heard is that failure is acceptable, and continued failure is part of the process. Making mistakes is how we learn, but repeating the same ones over and over is simply unforgivable. It’s unforgivable to me, to you, and to every frontline employee. I can say this because more than 9,900 frontline leaders have already spoken with a single voice in a clear vote of no confidence in current Southwest management and a vote of confidence in SWAPA. 

By any metric, Southwest lags not only our Big Four competitors, but the majority of the industry. As of today, 109 Pilots have left Southwest Airlines in 2023 alone to seek better stability and opportunity elsewhere. It won’t be long before our passengers, our lifeblood, begin to leave Southwest as well. Our airline can’t continue along the current trend, and with your votes, you have said nearly unanimously that you won’t tolerate it either. Will management’s culture of denial prevail? Will the government, the traveling public, and Wall Street start paying attention? Or will SWAPA be forced to make every effort to seek release from the NMB?

You have spoken clearly as a unified voice without equivocation. Now the question becomes whether or not our single, quantifiable, and deafening voice will be heard. Or will Southwest continue to treat each of us like Cassandra from Greek mythology — blessed with the knowledge of the future but cursed that no one will believe us? 

Casey Murray
SWAPA President