Posted by Avinash Sookdeo.
On February 15th, Southwest Airlines Co. filed a lawsuit against Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), and several of its officers, including Bret Oestreich, its National Director, in a Texas federal court. AMFA represents about 2,400 of Southwest’s mechanics and others in related fields. The lawsuit claims that AMFA allegedly helped to organize boycotts regarding mechanics working overtime shifts while in negotiations, thereby violating the Railway Labor Act (RLA). This is largely due to the fact that both Southwest Airlines Co. and AMFA have been in contractual negotiations for four years, despite the intervention of a federal labor mediator.
AMFA is being sued for three violations of the RLA, including Section 6 of 45 U.S.C. § 156, where Southwest Airlines Co. claims irreparable harm. Two counts of violation of Section 2, 45 U.S.C. § 152 was also filed, claiming that the AMFA encouraged unlawful job action and did not take necessary or reasonable steps to stop the unlawful job action. Several weeks ago, AMFA filed lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Arizona, claiming that Southwest Airlines Co. has not maintained its status quo during its negotiations, and has communicated information to its union members directly, violating the Railway Labor Act.
Southwest Airlines Co., which is the fourth largest airline carrier, claims that the union failed in its duties “to prevent the workers from banding together to decline overtime work this month” (The Associated Press). The lawsuit comes after the company noticed a 75% decrease from average overtime shift. The company said the boycott resulted in them outsourcing extra employees, costing the company financially. According to court documents, Southwest Airlines Co. is seeking a declaratory judgement, an immediate injunction, and damages for the costs of extra staffing, amongst other things.
Avinash is a biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences and Legal Studies of Business Minor at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2019.