By Andrea Ahlers--
Southwest Airlines mechanics are being wooed by another union.
The Transport Workers Union has launched a representation campaign to unseat the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which currently represents the Dallas-based carrier’s 1,800 mechanics.
Frank McCann, TWU national organizer, said the union has received several inquiries over the past six months from Southwest mechanics who are unhappy with AMFA and the lack of progress in contract negotiations. The mechanics contract became amendable in August.
AMFA has lost thousands of members over the past several years as mechanics at United Airlines decertified the union and thousands lost their jobs when Northwest Airlines went bankrupt. The national union, which has about 2,500 members, recently announced it will re-run its national election after several protests over how it was conducted in September. AMFA gained some members this year following Southwest’s purchase of AirTran Airways. AirTran’s mechanics had previously been represented by the Teamsters.
Mailers from the TWU that included a vote authorization card were sent to hundreds of Southwest mechanics this week.
“You don’t have to listen to [Southwest CEO] Gary Kelly’s ‘Message to the Field’ to know that Southwest Airlines has lost some of its ‘LUV’n feeling lately,” the mailer said. “Southwest today is not the same company that Herb Kelleher built. Mechanics will need all the help they can get.”
The TWU already represents about 20,000 Southwest employees, including flight attendants and ramp workers. The union has lost hundreds of members in the American Airlines’ bankruptcy restructuring when the Fort Worth-based carrier decided to outsource maintenance work and cabin-cleaning jobs.
McCann said the union plans to run phone banks and make house calls to gauge the interest of Southwest mechanics. Under a new law passed in February, unions must collect authorization cards from 50 percent of a work group before the National Mediation Board will order a union representation election.
“We have a strong interest at this point and we’ll see what happens when we do the house visits,” McCann said. “Our goal is always to have 70 percent turn in cards when we do a campaign like this.”