Published 10 Feb, 2016
Update: Read the thank you letter from Local 555
Those were the words of gratitude from a TWU Local 555 member who, along with over 100 co-workers, was suspended not long before Christmas.
As previously reported, Southwest Airlines issued unpaid suspensions ranging from 45 to 90 days to 105 Local 555 members in December, alleging they participated in “illegal job actions.” The alleged “illegal job actions” were actually regional union meetings that took place in Southern California and Orlando, Fla. to discuss options under the Railway Labor Act.
Following the suspensions, several Local 555 members suddenly found themselves facing the holidays with no income. But in the true spirit on solidarity, the Dallas County Fed sprung into action, setting up a GoFundMe page to raise donations for the suspended workers. And thanks to the generosity of TWU International and many TWU locals and individual members, each suspended worker received $1,096 from the crowd-sourced funding campaign. Donations were made from 33 TWU locals across divisions and even from members of other unions, as well as countless donations from the general public. By raising money for the suspended members, the drive shined a light for the traveling public on just how callous an employer Southwest Airlines can be.
When pledging financial support from TWU International, President Harry Lombardo said, “No TWU 555 member should have their family’s Christmas stolen from them. Shame on you Gary Kelly.”
There’s little doubt that the money made a difference to the members and their families during a difficult time. According to recipients, it helped with basic necessities such as staying current on utility bills and rent, and allowed them to provide holiday gifts for loved ones. Many donors left words of support for their suspended brothers and sisters at Southwest:
“Thank you for standing up for all of us.” “You’re not Alone—Stand United!
“Hold the line, brothers and sisters. Solidarity is the solution!” “From your brothers in the cockpit!”
“Actions speak louder than words, slogans, and catchphrases. Nice to see so many employees putting the Golden Rule into action.”
“You are heroes in my book.”
All suspended members have returned to work and Local 555 is currently fighting the suspensions and discipline through the grievance process. And TWU proved once again that we stand together, and fight together, when faced with adversity and injustice. Said one suspended member: “I am inspired by the support in which all of you have shown for those of us who have been locked out of our jobs. I am even more thankful to know that we do not stand alone.”