Mr. Gary C. Kelly
June 5, 2014
Chief Executive Officer
Southwest Airlines Co.
2702 Love Field Drive
Dallas, TX 75235
Re: Taking Stock in the Morale
We would like to congratulate you on a record-breaking first quarter. It is truly remarkable that in such a tumultuous industry, we have been able to maintain our profitability. This has not been the case with many of our competitors, many of whom have not been as lucky over the past decade.
Accordingly, our stock price has risen impressively over the past year, and that is something of which we can all be proud. What concerns us greatly, however, is the rapid deterioration of our once-great Culture; morale has dropped to an all-time low. The strife between our unions and management has begun to resemble that of an air carrier facing bankruptcy when ultimately we are at a time that our morale should be at an all-time high. The Wall Street media is even beginning to notice, as evidenced by two articles recently written in the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News. One quote from the Bloomberg article is particularly telling: “When things used to be so good, it’s hard for either shareholders or labor to concede that the magic is gone.”
Is the magic gone? To many, it would seem so. We once had a system so efficient that it was the envy of the industry. Now, with ramp staffing at minimum levels relying on mandatory double shifts, our operational performance is suffering. The delays that continue to plague us are leaving our Customer Service Agents overworked and unable to provide passengers the level of Positively Outrageous Customer Service that they deserve and expect. Holiday letters sent to our Employees by you and Mike Van de Ven made us all feel that we are liabilities to the bottom line, and not the assets that we were hired to be.
Can we get the magic back? Absolutely! On October 13, 2014 we will celebrate the end of the Wright Amendment and the beginning of a new future for Southwest Airlines. While this pivotal event in our history will be marked by the stroke of a clock, another can be marked by the stroke of a pen. What would make this event more momentous is labor and management standing united with signed contracts, ready to move forward and Kick Tail.
The message it will send Wall Street and our Customers will be loud and clear – Southwest Airlines is back and better than ever.
The Southwest Culture is the reason that most of us thought of working here as a dream job when we were new hires. With our latest problems, we have thousands of AirTran employees who haven’t had an opportunity to see this Culture and enjoy it the way that we have in the past. What better time than now to make us all the start of something new, something stronger? With a shift back to our roots, where the Employee came first, the Customer second and the Investors third, you can be guaranteed that our old formula for success will not only still work, but it will work better than ever. You can rest assured that happy Employees will create even more demand for our Southwest product and the profits will certainly reflect that. Please stand with us and let’s get to work on what we all do best: Operating the world’s best airline.
AMFA Local 18
TWU Local 555
IBT Local 19
Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association
AMFA Local 32
Lyndon P. Heffernan
AMFA Local 11
President & Directing General Chairman
IAM District 142
AMFA Local 4
Mr. Gary C. Kelly