December 28, 2015
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
New York, NY – Southwest Airlines has suspended about 100 ramp workers without pay for the entire holiday season, charging that they took part in an illegal sickout at four Southern California airports just before Thanksgiving.
The suspensions, which began Dec. 8, will last 45 to 90 days. The Transport Workers Union says they are retaliation against workers who took Nov. 18 off to attend a “strike preparedness” meeting. “It was pretty much anyone who took that day off,” said TWU Local 555 President Greg Puriski. Not all the suspended workers attended the meeting—Rafael Zavala, a cargo agent at the Ontario, Calif. airport, said he took a personal day off for the first time in eight years to care for his two children while his wife went to a funeral—but management said it had determined that they were supporting an illegal job action. The TWU, which represents over 11,000 ground workers and baggage handlers, has been trying to negotiate a contract with Southwest since 2011. Read more