Small group of Southwest workers receive warnings of first-ever furloughs

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The furloughs, the first in the low-cost carrier’s 49-year history, would take place in January unless Washington passes “a satisfactory” extension of a payroll support program for airlines, Southwest said.

An initial $25 billion in federal payroll support for airline workers expired in September, prompting tens of thousands of furloughs across the industry after lawmakers failed to agree another COVID-19 relief deal before the Nov. 3 U.S. election.

Southwest remains in talks over cost-savings with representatives of other union groups, it said.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications, or WARN notices, were sent on Friday to 42 workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).

The Teamsters did not immediately comment.

“This is not the result we hoped to achieve,” Southwest Vice President of Labor Relations Russell McCrady said in an emailed statement, adding that the door remains open for negotiations with the union to save the affected jobs.

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