Southwest Employees Say no More Stock Options

January 24, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Southwest Airlines has used stock options to enrich employees during good financial periods, but officials with the Transport Workers Union of America are now seeking more traditional compensation for ground workers.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the union, which represents nearly 7,000 ramp workers, operations agents, freight agents, and provisioning employees, is asking for wage increases, retiree medical benefits, and work-rule changes as they open negotiations on a new contract. Union leaders said they are not interested in stock-based compensation, as the poor performance of options that were granted two years ago has resulted in them currently having no value.

Despite high fuel prices and concerns about the economy, the union feels the airline should be able to increase workers’ pay. An airline consultant hired by the union said Southwest has proven it can make a profit during recessions and is also able to buy fuel at cheaper prices than competitors due to hedging contracts, according to the Star-Telegram.

Union officials also pointed out the airline’s workers grapple with long hours and required overtime because of staffing shortages, and said improving wages could help bring in more employees. An airline spokeswoman admitted Southwest does have staffing issues.

The workers’ current contract opens for changes June 30.

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