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Published on Thursday, May 12, 2016

Southwest Airlines pilots sue Chicago Airport for banning labor dispute ad

Southwest Airlines' pilot union is suing the city of Chicago for discrimination in denying the placement of a billboard ad at Chicago Midway Airport.
 
The pilots association (SWAPA) wanted to place the ad ahead of a Southwest Airlines shareholder meeting in the city later this month in order to raise awareness of their long running labor dispute.
 
In the ad SWAPA claimed Southwest shareholders had received more than $3 billion in stock buybacks from the airline since the last pilot wage increase. 
 
"We are very disappointed by the city and airport's decision to needlessly silence our voice and deny our welcome message to shareholders," said SWAPA president, Captain Jon Weaks. 
 
"Our ad was described by the city's Department of Aviation as 'offensive' despite simply showing a pilot in uniform and mentioning the undeniable fact that shareholders have received over $3 billion in stock buybacks from Southwest since the last pilot wage increase. We believe that is what is truly "offensive.'"
 
"For a city such as Chicago, with a rich history of labor support, to be hindrance to free speech is both unfortunate and concerning," Weaks added.
 
On Wednesday, both sides made preliminary arguments in the US District Court in Illinois.
 
The labor dispute dates back to 2012 and pilots have not had a raise since 2011, the union says.
 
The dispute is currently in federal mediation.
 
Several hundred pilots will come to Chicago to picket downtown and near the airport before and during the May 18 shareholder meeting.

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