Southwest Pilots Join American in Voting to Strike, United Could Be Next

Photo:  MARK RALSTON/AFP (Getty Images)
Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP (Getty Images)

Earlier this month, pilots at American Airlines voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike. They cited pay and scheduling as major issues facing the industry, the kind of quality-of-life problems that make the job undesirable to new faces. It seems the pilots over at American were right, because their counterparts at Southwest have now signed a similar strike pledge—and United may not be far behind.

Southwest’s strike vote passed by an even higher margin than American’s, incredibly. A whopping 98 percent of pilots participated in the vote, and 99 percent of those participants voted to walk out. Union president Casey Murray, in a statement about the strike vote, said “The lack of leadership and the unwillingness to address the failures of our organization have led us to this point. Our pilots are tired of apologizing to our passengers on behalf of a company that refuses to place its priorities on its internal and external customers.”

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United Airlines may be next, if their negotiations and picketing are anything to go by. United’s union has been pushing management to limit how often pilots can be called in on their days off, a discussion that’s apparently so heated as to push finances and salaries into the background.

Of course, striking in the airline world is never easy. Pilots are bound by similar rules to railway workers, whose strike push last year was stifled by the Biden Administration forcing a deal between management and the unions. That deal did not include the unions’ desired staffing, sick day, or safety concessions, which likely has nothing to do with the string of horrifying derailments and accidents we’ve seen in recent months.

It’s unlikely your summer travel plans will be interrupted by a strike, but the pilots’ unions are pushing for them all the same. If it makes our skies safer than our railways, I’m all for it.

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