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TWU 557 President's Message on COVID-19

A Discussion of the COVID-19 “Business Effect”

Fellow Instructors,

America is in a crisis. It is a health crisis, whether real or perceived, nevertheless, it is a crisis. American business is also in a crisis as a byproduct of the health crisis. Our Airline is a part of American business and is now, like all airlines, suffering from the virus “Business Effect.” This effect is the lack of public business, in our case, passengers. Passengers create the dollar cash flow that powers our Airline’s economic engine. American business also needs cash flow to work. Where does this leave us as Company employees and individuals?

Our Company, along with other businesses, airlines or otherwise, have entered a crisis mode of operation. Company leadership has no other choice but to look at the “Worst Case Scenario.” At risk is the profit cash cushion that existed prior to the impact and fear of the COVID-19 Virus, as well as, ultimately, the very business existence of the Company. It is now a time problem. We are thankful that our Company is financially the strongest of all the airlines in this fight against the virus and fear.

As individuals, we have no direct control. We must pay attention to our own health and that of our families, by following the recommended anti spread and containment protocols. It is the proper and responsible thing to do.

Short of a total work stoppage and complete social isolation, our Company must continue forward with caution. Much like a pilot assessing fuel remaining, the Company must examine the “Worst Case Scenario.” In other words, how long can we fly before running out of fuel? At the last announced burn rate of $300 Million a month, one can calculate the amount of cash remaining in months. Depending on the options chosen by the Company, many scenarios may play out before declaring “Emergency Fuel.”  Regardless, it could be painful for all of us if the viral impact continues past several months. Right now, time is critical for both how the virus statistically presents itself and how the public will react to it.

At this point, clarity is missing both in the disease and the American business response which negatively impacts the Stock Market. Uncertainty creates fear and fear is driving public perception.

As employees, now is the time to maintain status quo. Continue your duties, look after your health and that of your family, have consideration for your fellow employees, and look to the future. Do not let fear rule your daily duties.

Your TWU 557 Executive Board believes patience is key. Overreaction has no place at the present time, either in Contract negotiations or disparaging discussions with fellow employees. Common sense and precaution are key.

Should the “Worst Case Scenario” happen, Collective Bargaining Agreements will essentially become worthless.  Only time will provide clarity of the “Business Effect” of COVID-19.  We as employees have no control over that time period. Our job is to be patient and vigilant.

This business crisis ultimately will pass. Time will provide clarity for our Nation, our Company, and our fellow employees.

For the Executive Board,


Gerald H. Bradley

President TWU Local 557

Southwest Flight Crew Training Instructors

TWU 557 to Hold Member Meetings

Southwest Airlines TWU 557 INSTRUCTORS,

Your TWU 557 Leadership and negotiating team will host Membership Meetings on March 16 and 17, 2020 at 8500 N Stemmons Frway,  Dallas, TX. The Office location is suite 3015 on the third floor. Meetings will be held in the confrence room on the 4th floor. A short presentation and a Q & A session will be the agenda. The presentation will be repeated on a timely rolling basis thoughout both days.

Members should try and make a morning or afternoon session subject to your individual work schedules. Coffee and Soft Drinks will be provided, as well as food items. The time frame each day will be 0800-17:30. The afternoon sessions could extend as needed.

Bring your questions concerning the Mediation and the negotiating process. Your team will also speak to our position as it currently stands at the negotiating table with the Company.

This is your chance to gain first hand information and to provide your team with your direct and personal input.

For the Executive Board.


Gerald H. Bradley

President 557

Southwest Flight Crew Training Instructors

Understanding The Railway Labor Act

Fellow TWU 557 Members,

The following information is to help all understand our Contract Negotiating Process. We have direct links on the Website that will explain the process, However, your Board believes that now is also a good time to remind the membership again concerning Contracts negotiated under The Railway Labor Act (RLA). The following information is available on the National Mediation Board's website. It is summarized again here. Please read trough the process and the glossary. If you have questions or clairifications please ask any Elected Executive Board Member. 


Gerald H. Bradley

President TWU 557 Local

Southwest Flight Crew Training Instructors



Section 6:  RAILWAY LABOR ACT Understanding the Process as applied to Airlines

    Negotiations Preparation

Before negotiations begin, the Union leadership works to determine members’ priorities through polling, surveys, union meetings, and direct communication. With this, the Union works to establish unity and consensus and sets the direction for negotiations.

    Section 6 Openers

The Section 6 Notice is a formal, written notice from the parties of a proposal to change the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

    Direct Negotiations

The Union and Management negotiating teams engage in direct negotiations in an attempt to reach a new agreement.

     Request for Mediation and Mediated Negotiations

At any time, one or both parties may request assistance from the National Mediation Board, or the NMB may offer mediation without a request. The NMB assigns a federal mediator to help the parties reach an agreement. The mediator has the power to hold the parties in mediation indefinitely.

    Mediated Negotiations Reach an Impasse

If the NMB determines the parties have reached an impasse, the Board can make a “proffer of arbitration,” which means that the parties can elect to send the remaining open issues to binding arbitration. Both sides must agree to this step before it is taken.  One or Both Parties Can Reject Arbitration

If Arbitration the Mediator can release both parties to a 30 day cooling off period.

  30-Day Cooling Off Period

Intense, mediated talks often involving others from the NMB, in addition to the assigned mediator, normally are held during this period. At the end, the parties are free to engage in self-help.

     Self-Help (See definition below) and Presidential Emergency Board

If the NMB believes that dispute threatens to interrupt interstate commerce “to a degree such as to deprive any section of the country of essential transportation service,” the president may create an emergency board, which has 30 days to examine and offer a resolution. If the parties reject the proposed resolution, a new 30-day cooling-off period begins, after which the parties are free to engage in self-help.


    Railway Labor Act: A Glossary of Terms

 Alternative Dispute Resolution ~ The facilitation of interest- based or mutual-interest negotiations vs. traditional bargaining.

Amendable Date ~ Under the Railway Labor Act, collective bargaining agreements do not expire as they do under the National Labor Relations Act; instead, they become subject-to-change on a certain date.

 Binding Arbitration ~ Both parties must adhere to the decision of the arbitrator.

Collective Bargaining ~ Negotiations between unions (representing employees) and management regarding wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions.

Direct Negotiations ~ Collective bargaining directly between the parties (labor and management) before or apart from National Mediation Board mediation.

Impasse ~ The point at which engaging in further direct negotiations will not foreseeably lead to a negotiated agreement.

Mediation ~ A type of dispute resolution process where a neutral (i.e., a mediator) facilitates agreement between the parties to a collective bargaining dispute, versus imposing a settlement on the parties.

Ratification ~ An internal-union process, usually whereby union members vote whether to approve a tentative agreement reached by union representatives with management officials on a new or amended collective bargaining agreement.

Tentative Contract ~ A negotiated agreement between the parties’ subject to ratification by a vote of union members.

Self-Help ~ The right of a party to a collective bargaining dispute to unilaterally act in its own best interest. A carrier, for example, may lock disputing employees out of the workplace or implement changes in pay, rules, and working conditions; and the union may, as an example, strike.

 Section 6 Opener ~ A formal written notice indicating the intended changes desired in the terms and conditions of employment by one or both parties.

Status Quo ~ Situations under the RLA in collective bargaining when existing pay rates, rules, and working conditions cannot be changed unilaterally.

Under the RLA, the parties must bargain in good faith to reach agreement on contract amendments. There is no set time period for these negotiations and, due to the large number of issues that can be on the table, negotiations can last for a substantial time. Bargaining during direct negotiations is conducted using one of two methods:


  • • Traditional—A method of bargaining in which proposals detailing each party’s wants and needs in particular contract sections are exchanged. These discussions take place “on the record,” which means the proposals and discussions could potentially be used as evidence in future proceedings, such as later grievance hearings, for example.
  • • Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB)—A method of bargaining that focuses more on mutual problem solving. These discussions are typically held “off the record.”

During Section 6 negotiations, the Union cannot engage in job actions, and the Company is prohibited from making unilateral changes to the terms of the contract.


If, at any time during negotiations, either or both parties feel that negotiations aren’t progressing, they can request that the National Mediation Board (NMB) intervene and assign a staff mediator. The mediator does not have the authority to impose conditions upon the parties or decide issues. Instead, the mediator is trained to bridge gaps between the parties’ positions to facilitate an agreement. During mediation, the status quo remains in effect. That means the Union cannot take job actions, and the Company cannot make unilateral changes to the terms of the contract.

Mediated talks continue until the mediator determines that continued talks are unlikely to reach an agreement. At that point, one of the three NMB members becomes more directly involved in the process and evaluates the status. If the mediator and NMB determine that further negotiating sessions are not likely to lead to movement by either party or resolution of the dispute (an “impasse”), the Board will offer the parties binding arbitration to settle any remaining open issues. Both parties are required to accept this offer before binding arbitration can occur. If either party rejects binding arbitration, the NMB releases the parties into a 30- day cooling-off period. Following the cooling-off period, either party is able to engage in self-help.

During this time, both parties must adhere to the status quo. The Union is not allowed to engage in job actions, and the Company is not permitted to make unilateral changes to the terms of the contract. This typically is a time in which both parties work, sometimes around the clock and often with a member of the NMB, to resolve open issues and reach an agreement. Typically, the pressure builds as the 30-day deadline nears. The parties can mutually agree to extend the 30- day cooling-off period if they believe they are close to reaching an agreement and wish to continue negotiating.

When the cooling-off period ends, either party can engage in self- help. For labor, this typically means withholding services by engaging in a strike. However, other types of actions (such as appeals to the public to cease doing business with the carrier and informational campaigns) also may occur. For its part, the employer can lock out or replace striking workers and/or make unilateral changes in work rules, pay, and other terms of employment.


If the NMB determines that a dispute over the terms of a CBA “threatens to substantially interrupt interstate commerce to a degree such as to deprive any section of essential transportation service,” the Board will notify the President, and he/she may create a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to investigate and report on the dispute. The PEB has 30 days to invesitgate the dispute and issue a report. After the report is completed, the parties enter another 30 day cooling off period to consider the PEB recommendations. If the two parties do not agree to the recommendations by the end of the second cooling off period they are free to engage in self help as outlined above. 



Scheduled Contract Negotiations

Febuary 7, 2020

Fellow Instructors,

TWU 557 Negotiatiors are scheduled to meet with the Company on February 17th and 19th. During January meetings, both teams also exchanged ideas and positions on several Contract Articles. TWU Leadership will keep you informed on the status of Contract 2020 talks as we contiue to work toward an equiable agreement that recoginzes the professionalism and cost advantage which Instructors provide at Southwest Airlines. Simulator training for the return to service of the MAX will test all resources going forward. Your Negotiating team will continue working toward an agreement that will fit within the ever changing Advanced Qualification Program training at Southwest Airlines. Please continue to monitor the member only section of, "Contract 20202 News" for more detailed information concerning negotiations. 


Gerald H. Bradley

President TWU 557

Southwest Flight Crew Training Instructors



Contract Amenable

TWU 557 Members

Please note that the amenable date of our contract clock is now counting up.

Contracts under the Rail Way Labor Act do not expire. The Contract remains in force until changes are negotiated and accepted by both sides.  

Negotiations are scheduled starting January 14, 2020.

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