Recently, Southwest Airlines posted a memorandum regarding its interpretation of the results regarding the AIR21 filed by one of our DAL-based Aircraft Maintenance Technicians (AMT) last year. We believe that the Company left out an important aspect of the findings.
The AIR21 that was filed initiated two investigations: one by the Department of Labor (DOL); and another by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Company was correct that the DOL investigation ended in a dismissal. However, the DOL’s dismissal was appealed to an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") and partial summary judgment was granted in favor of our DAL AMT and against the Company. Thereafter, prior to proceeding to trial, Southwest settled with our DAL AMT and agreed to "retract and rescind" the Letter of Instruction that had been issued; agreed that the "letter will not be retained or referenced regarding any future discipline or evaluation;" and further agreed not "to take any unfavorable personnel action, discipline, or other manner of retaliation against" the DAL AMT or "any employee identified as a witness or potential witness" in the case. Finally, Southwest agreed to pay a majority of the attorneys’ fees that were incurred to maintain the AIR21 case. The recent Southwest memorandum is a perfect example of a half-truth and half-truths can be very dangerous.
With respect to the parallel FAA investigation, it produced a finding that:
"The investigation substantiated that a violation, order, or standard of the FAA related to air carrier safety occurred. Accordingly, the FAA is taking appropriate corrective and/or enforcement action."
We are profoundly disappointed that the Company chose not to address the fact that the investigation found that a violation "related to air carrier safety occurred," and to date has not sincerely corrected the conditions that led to the AIR21 filing in the first place. We further believe that this lack of transparency was misleading and, whether intentional or unintentional, is an attempt to water-down the reality that a violation occurred. We are in the process of investigating the details related to the recent FAA letter, and will update you if and when we uncover additional information.
The Association is striving to work with all of our carriers, particularly on the subject of safety, and will continue to labor towards the goal of providing safety through expert maintenance. This must be a two-way street though, and we encourage Southwest Airlines to become a true partner in achieving this goal.
In the meantime, it is important to be aware of all of the facts in this situation and let the Company know that you stand behind the brave member who filed the AIR21 in question. Do not allow his victory, which is a collective victory, to be lessened and undermined.
AMFA National Executive Council
Safety in the Air Begins with Quality Maintenance on the Ground
Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association
7853 E. Arapahoe Court, Suite 1100
Centennial, CO 80112
Phone: 303-752-AMFA (2632)