Southwest Airlines brought in $3.1 billion in shareholder returns, but their pilots allege that they saw none of the profits.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) created an advertisement they hope to share on a billboard to spread awareness about the issue.
Unfortunately, the pilots had needed the assistance of a federal judge in order to display their advertisement in the first place. U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall ordered a temporary restraining order (TRO) allowing the pilots to display the ad at Midway Airport.
A temporary protective order (TPO), used for domestic violence issues, can be terminated after 30 to 90 days, but a TRO, up to the judge’s direction, may only be appealed after a short amount of time. For the SWAPA billboard, Judge Kendall said she would only entertain a stay of the order for 12 hours if the city of Chicago wished to appeal.
The ad was originally banned by the Chicago Department of Aviation because of a ruling regarding advertising last summer.
“All political and public issue advertising” was banned after a People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ad drew controversy despite a lack of any official advertising policies at the airport. The city subsequently adopted new guidelines stating that political ads or ads that involve public issues or opinions are prohibited.
“Contrary to SWAPA’s assertions,” the city’s response read, “its proposed advertisement advocating for raises for its member pilots was not rejected by the Chicago Department of Aviation because of disagreement with SWAPA’s viewpoint.”
Lexology reports that the guidelines in place were too vague, and the city’s ban on the SWAPA ad constituted discrimination in violation of the First Amendment. The pilots union, however, believes the city found the ad “offensive” and thought airline officials would disprove of the billboard.
The SWAPA states that they have not had acceptable contracts for the last four years and have not had a raise since 2011. They are currently in federal mediation with Southwest Airlines, and the pilots union plans to protest upcoming shareholder meetings.