Following a series of unpleasant and high-profile events involving employees, including a pilot who was recently cited by police for allegedly punching a flight attendant over a mask argument, Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly has issued an ultimatum to feuding employees.
“The sobering reality is we are seeing an alarming increase of behavior that stands in stark contrast to our long-cherished north star of following the Golden Rule, and that is beyond disappointing,” Kelly wrote in a new memo to Southwest employees following weeks of rising tensions.
The ‘Golden Rule’ at Southwest is brief and sweet: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”
“Let me be clear, any behavior that deviates from this deeply rooted core value of our company is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the memo continued. “Put simply, enough is enough,” Kelly wrote.
“I’m not addressing anyone examples in particular – I’ve seen an uptick in these issues recently, and it must end. Individuals who choose to not comply with our stated expectations in Guidelines for Employees and Company policies and Employee expectations will be held accountable”.
Employees who “crossed the line in a heated argument,” according to a message co-signed by the head of the pilots’ flight operations department and the head of inflight operations, which oversees flight attendants, maybe fired.
The “political unrest and contentious nature of contemporary events, as well as our ever-increasing polarized society,” according to Kelly, is to blame for employee infighting.
The airline was recently compelled to launch an investigation when a pilot allegedly decided to end a passenger announcement with the insulting anti-Biden phrase “Let’s go, Brandon.”
Southwest management chastised the alleged behavior, reminding pilots that a Southwest plane was not the place for them to air their own political views.
Southwest’s decision to support the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for government contractors has further heightened tensions. Southwest did confirm, however, that the vaccination date will be moved from December 8 to January 4, 2022, in accordance with government regulations.
The postponement will hopefully avoid the holiday travel pandemonium that could have resulted if unvaccinated airline employees were sent home in the weeks leading up to Christmas.