Teamsters says open to Southwest cost-savings talks, denies it walked away

FILE PHOTO: Southwest Airlines planes are seen at LAX airport in Los Angeles, California, United States, October 22, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

(Reuters) – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters remains open to cost-savings talks with Southwest Airlines LUV.N, a spokeswoman said on Monday following news last week that the airline had sent notices of potential furloughs to 42 material specialists represented by the union.

Southwest said on Friday it had sent the warnings of furloughs, which would be the first in the company’s history, because the union was discontinuing all cost-savings negotiations for its material specialists.

“That simply is not true, and further we continue to be open to any other cost savings the Company believes might be helpful,” Teamsters airline division director David Bourne said in a Nov. 6 letter to members that was shared with Reuters.

The union had informed Southwest that an overwhelming majority of the workers indicated in a survey that they did not want pay cuts, but said the union was open to other ideas to meet Southwest’s goal of 10% cost savings without furloughs or concessions.

Southwest is asking all of its unions to agree to pay cuts in order to prevent furloughs and layoffs through 2021 as the industry struggles to stem losses from the coronavirus pandemic in the absence of more federal aid.

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