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Southwest Airline Workers Developed Frostbite While Working 16-Hour Shifts This Week

Southwest Airline Workers Developed Frostbite While Working 16-Hour Shifts This Week

If you think passengers are upset with Southwest’s disastrous flight cancellations this week, just wait until you speak to their staff.

A letter from Southwest’s union workers claims some ground crew workers have developed frostbite while working 16– to 18-hour shifts in the subzero temperatures of the winter storm.

The Transport Workers Union of America Local 555, who represent 17,000 ground crew workers, reported that some of their members have been working extended shifts in areas as low as –15 degrees over the last week, and many say they were forced to work in extreme cold without rest. A leaked memo from Southwest Vice President Chris Johnson showed that ramp workers were required to work overtime and if they were sick, they could not take the day off without a doctor’s note. 

Randy Barnes, the President of TWU Local 555, criticized Southwest Airlines for scheduling too many flights, despite knowing the extreme weather conditions. He said the airline needs to space flights out more in both extreme cold and heat.

Anonymous staffers and pilots have also voiced their complaints online about the way the company has handled the chaos.

But Southwest’s staff aren’t the only ones frustrated with the airlines. Since last week’s winter storm, Southwest has canceled close to 16,000 flights. Passengers have been stranded far away from friends and family, with thousands of delayed and canceled flights and lost luggage.

The airline blames the cancellations on “outdated scheduling software” and understaffing issues. 

Southwest has shared it is “confident” the airline will soon resume normal operations, and so far they’re planning for a “mostly full schedule come Friday.” But their passengers and staffers will likely not land their complaints anytime soon.

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