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On September 27, possibly hundreds of Southwest flight attendants are set to descend upon Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to demand new contracts with better working conditions.
Members of TWU Local 556, a union representing over 18,000 Southwest flight attendants, plan to picket at the airport. They say the recent increase in flight delays is making their job unbearable. Among demands from the workers is better pay and better safety precautions.
The Atlanta protest is one of 11 happening at airports across the country, including Orlando, Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Oakland, Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Baltimore.
During a meeting, TWU Local 556 President Lyn Montgomery told Southwest Airlines, “Never before in the history of Southwest Airlines have flight attendants’ working conditions deteriorated so rapidly, crippling our quality of life, devaluing our role and creating a loss of spirit,” she declared. “Resolution can wait no longer.”
Changes demanded from the union include the following:
Paying flight attendants for time worked, including when passengers are boarding and when they are required to work outside of originally scheduled hours
Giving flight attendants control over their personal schedules when not at work, allowing them the liberty they deserve to take care of their lives at home
Providing access to food and a safe place to rest when traveling on the job. A lack of hot food and sometimes even hotel rooms leaves flight attendants with little to eat and sometimes sleeping on the airport floor
Fixing technology issues that impact passengers and disproportionately impact frontline aviation workers, including flight attendants
Creating a modern reserve system that meets the needs of both the operation and employees, and ending the unsafe practice of putting flight attendants on 24-hour on-call shifts
Providing benefits that actually help flight attendants, like health insurance that continues coverage when someone is injured on the job, battling cancer, or having a baby