A whole lot of people are grounded because of canceled flights at Southwest Airlines

October 12 – Over the weekend, Southwest Airlines canceled about 28 percent of their flights. Yesterday, they canceled another 10 percent.

This is hundreds and hundreds of stranded people, not able to get in the air until Wednesday.

It begs the question, what the heck is happening?

Initially, labor issues were blamed, but weather and air traffic control delays made the list, too.

The Federal Aviation Administration quickly said they can’t blame air traffic control.  

Now the finger has turned back to staffing shortages.

However, last week, Southwest did impose a vaccine mandate on all employees. There was some suggestion yesterday that maybe pilots staged a sick out strike for a day. There’s no evidence that happened, but there’s a whole lot of conjecture as to what the cancellations were really about.

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed Southwest Airlines and what it means for Americans this morning during the Big Talk on First News.

Barkdoll said, “I think it’s just a good example of what you’re seeing all over the country. There are staffing shortages. Whether it’s because of vaccine mandates or other sorts of dynamics at play, who knows? But you’re hearing this all up and down the economy from restaurants to manufacturing to the service industry, nobody’s able to fill these jobs and you see this Southwest story, this is how it begins to manifest. This is a real example of how it affects people in the public.”

Jansen said, “There were people that came out yesterday I don’t think there’s any doubt this was a reaction to the mandate that’s going to go into effect December 8. It was more than just the pilots. There was other groups of employees who seemed to join into this. Of course they have to be careful about what they admit to in terms of coordinating things, but I think it’s pretty evident this is what this is. These private companies are going well ahead of what they actually have to do because stuff coming and threatened to come from the executive branch hasn’t actually happened yet in some circumstances and they’re sort of doing this weird, vague law threat of something coming maybe and intimidating then people to react to it. It seems to be their MO for everything these days. Do these private companies have to charge forward and do this?”

“No,” Barkdoll said, “This is an interesting point about this. The Biden executive order that’s going to be implemented through OSHA has technically not been written and implemented yet. The one kind of counterpoint on Southwest is in the weeks before last week almost all the other airlines imposed vaccine mandates and they did not have the same problem that Southwest did, but it is a little odd that it seems like all of these private companies are getting out in front of an executive order that’s still not in effect and in many cases, the companies mandates are actually stricter than what the federal government may be mandating through OSHA and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, particularly in the context of what are already massive labor shortages throughout these industries.”

Texas governor Greg Abbott rolled out an executive order yesterday banning vaccine mandates by any entity, including private industries.

It remains to be seen whether or not it’s legal. Federal law supersedes state law, so once the OSHA  mandate comes down, that’s going to trump the Texas governor’s ban.

Barkdoll said, “He is expressing the same concerns and complaints you’re hearing from governors all over the country that they believe the mandates are actually hurting a lot of these businesses. It’s keeping people from returning to work in some cases.”

Add to all this the oil and supply chain issues, and the future for the USA looks pretty grim.

Barkdoll said, “I think this supply chain issue is the most under reported story in the country. This is a very serious problem and you look at the reporting every day that you’re hearing from different companies, different sectors of the economy, everyone thinks this is going to get worse over the next few months. You’re already seeing in the store, the shelves are empty. You go to buy whatever product is you’re not able to get it. Oil now it’s the highest that it’s been since 2014. Apparently Biden is looking at some kind of a mandate that would ban US exports of oil.”

But experts are saying don’t do that. They think it would create even more problems with oil pricing and the flow of oil.

More things than gas in your car are tied to oil and it’s a big driver for inflation.

Also, it was reported yesterday that between 500,000 and 600,000 containers are just sitting in the Pacific Ocean because they can’t get into port.

It’s been reported some of them have been stuck for more than a year – including the people on the ships.

It just keeps building and building. The ports don’t have the staff to get the containers in and there aren’t drivers to get the supplies across the country.

Barkdoll said, “These bottlenecks are getting worse and worse and I’m really concerned that we could start seeing more pain over all of this over the next few weeks and months.”