- Southwest Airlines ground crew workers were forced to work long shifts in freezing temperatures, leading some to experience frostbite.
- The Transport Workers Union of America Local 555 alleges that the airline utterly failed to protect its ground crews and endangered their safety.
- The Transportation Department, led by Pete Buttigieg, has faced criticism for not addressing issues in the airline industry, including chronic poor planning and lack of investment in infrastructure.
The Transport Workers Union of America Local 555 has accused Southwest Airlines of forcing its ground crew workers to work in freezing temperatures for up to 18 hours, leading to some experiencing frostbite.
The union has called on the airline to do more to protect its ground crew, citing poor planning and a lack of investment in infrastructure as contributing factors to the crisis faced by Southwest, which has seen thousands of flight cancellations and stranded customers.
“During the recent extreme weather conditions, some members of Transport Workers Union of America Local 555 experienced frostbite while working abnormally long shifts,” Local 555 President Randy Barnes wrote in a press release on Wednesday.
“It is unreasonable for workers to be exposed to these conditions for extended periods of time, and it is the responsibility of the airline to ensure the safety and well-being of its ground crew. People need the opportunity to take breaks and rotate out of the cold in order to prevent injury.”
Southwest has also faced criticism from Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and progressive politicians, including Senator Bernie Sanders, for its handling of the situation and for failing to address chronic issues in the airline industry.
The Transportation Department has yet to take steps to force airlines to refund travelers for canceled and significantly delayed flights or levy fines for long delays and poor scheduling practices.
The recent extreme weather conditions have highlighted the callous disregard for worker safety by Southwest Airlines and the broader airline industry. It is the responsibility of the airline to prioritize the safety and well-being of its ground crew, not to exploit them for profit.