Southeast Texas Record

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Southwest Airlines flight attendants file class action lawsuit against union, seek recall of board members

By Dee Thompson | Feb 21, 2017

General court 08

DALLAS – On Feb., 6 a petition was signed by more than 7,000 of the Southwest Airlines flight attendants in the Transport Workers Union Local 556, demanding the recall of 12 of the executive board members over alleged violations of the constitution and bylaws of the Transport Workers Union of America.

There are 17 members of the executive board. A vote will be held to replace the 12 recalled board members.

The recall effort is headed by a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, Jeanna Jackson, a member in good standing of the Transport Workers Union of America (TWU). Jackson stated that the flight attendants who voted for a recall feel they are not adequately represented.

On behalf of those TWU members who signed the petition, a lawsuit has been filed in the Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas (Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-339) by attorney Joshua A. Verde of The Verde Law Firm, PLLC in Houston. The defendants are Transport Workers Union of America, Local 556 and Transport Workers Union of America, AFL-CIO.

The complaint states: “On Dec. 15, 2016, valid recall petitions signed by 7,592 TWU members in good standing were presented to the Local for verification as required by the By-Laws. The recall petitions alleged violations of the Local By-Laws Objectives Article II (b) and the TWU International Constitution Article XIX Section 5. The petitions met or exceeded the form requirements described in the By-Laws.”

The Complaint states that “Local 556 failed to comply with the requirements of 29 U.S.C. § 411 in rejecting and ignoring a legitimate recall petition submitted by its members in good standing.” It also asks that a judgment be entered “...declaring that Local 556 has violated the LMRDA's §411 and § 412 procedural rights and protections secured to Plaintiffs and other Local 556 members.” It seeks that a Local 556 be permanently enjoined from “...blocking any action to recall the existing officers and democratically elect new executive board members.”

The recall petition was not been verified by the union, prompting the filing of the lawsuit to protect the rights of those members who signed the petition. Class action status is sought in the lawsuit, which is against the union, not Southwest Airlines.

Jackson spearheads the recall effort.

"The requisite number of signatures has been delivered to the executive board but they refuse to verify the signatures and honor the will of the members," she was quoted as saying in a press release. "This will not stand. Our brothers and sisters deserve to be heard. They will be heard."

Jackson told The Record she cannot comment about how the TWU union members who signed the petition feel they are not being represented by the board members they seek to recall.

“I cannot comment in detail because of the pending litigation, but I can say that a majority of the members in good standing believe good cause exists to recall these officers,” she said.

Jackson said is not clear as to why the board refuses to honor the petition.

“That’s a very good question and one we do not have the answer to. The Local refuses to recognize the recall petition.”

TWU Local 556 is the only Union for all Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants.Membership in the union has been steadily increasing since 2002. Dues are $46 per month.

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Dallas Division of the Northern District of Texas