Unionized Southwest workers distribute leaflets at McCarran

Union members of Southwest Airlines ground crews handed out leaflets at McCarran International Airport on Thursday to protest the company’s proposals to outsource some jobs.

This was part of a coordinated action at 15 other airports staged by Transport Workers Union Local 555. The union has discussed a contract with the company since July 2011, but has made little progress.

Southwest, by far the largest carrier at McCarran with 16.3 million passengers coming and going last year, employs about 700 people in ground crew positions represented by the union. This includes baggage handlers, ramp workers and people who stock the planes with snacks and drinks.

The union has 9,400 members nationwide.

Some other airlines, including Frontier and Allegiant, have outsourced these positions to cut costs. But, said a union flier, “Since contract workers do not have the same vested interest in our success, it is difficult to believe they will provide you with the exceptional service you have come to expect from Southwest.”

Company officials did not return calls for comment. But in the past CEO Gary Kelly has talked about the need to cut operating costs to compete with other airlines that have done so through bankruptcy.

Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at
toreiley@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.

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