(KFYI News) – About 50 employees of Southwest Airlines protested on Thursday outside Comerica Theater in downtown Phoenix, where Southwest was holding a company meeting.
Dana Provencher, a baggage handler who was among the picketers, told KFYI News that they've been working without a contract for about 2½ years, and have gone without raises for longer than that.
At the same time, he said, Southwest posted a record profit of $805 million last year, but insists it can't afford to share it with employees. Instead, Provencher said, "Southwest is saying that they don't have the money, they want to contract out our work, they want to make us part-time."
Asked if that means the reputation of Southwest employees loving their job and having fun at work is no longer valid, Provencher replied, "I've been here 23 years and I still love my job. But I have a wife and our kids at home and I haven't had a raise in almost five years, and the cost of everything keeps going up... Everybody out here is trying to get the message across that we want a contract. We don't want a fortune, we just want a contract."
He added that contract talks are off-and-on. "There have been negotiations, and many times the company and the union are so far apart that they just leave the table. The two proposals are like night and day."
PHOTOS: Protesters walk the sidewalk in front of Comerica Theater.