Southwest Airlines takes off a plane as representatives and pilots from the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA) demonstrate outside Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW) in Chicago, Illinois, US, on Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Southwest Airlines The pilots union said Thursday it is seeking a release from federal mediation of a new employment contract, laying the groundwork for a possible strike because talks with the carrier have yet to result in an agreement.
The airline and Etihad, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, have been in contract talks for more than three years and negotiations have been tense. Pilots of the Dallas-based airline voted to allow the union to call a potential strike last month, a poll the union called for in the wake of last year’s weekend breakup.
Riven, the chairman of the negotiating committee, wrote to the National Mediation Board on Thursday, according to a letter seen by CNBC.
The union said Southwest refused to engage in “substantive discussions or make credible proposals” on issues such as improving pay and work rules, improving quality of life and alleviating fatigue, according to a letter sent by the union to the National Mediation Board.
Southwest did not immediately comment.
Pilot strikes in the United States are extremely rare, and the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association’s request does not mean that a strike is imminent due to procedures under US labor law. There was the last major American passenger airline strike in the country Spirit Airlines in 2010.
There are several alleged cooling off periods if the National Mediation Board announces a deadlock between Southwest and the pilots’ union. Which last 30 days for each individual, which gives time for a potential agreement.