Dispatchers picket outside of Dallas Love Field ahead of Christmas travel season

Approximately 100 off-duty Southwest Airlines dispatchers picketed outside Dallas Love Field Airport on Monday. The union the represents the dispatchers say they are in an ongoing contract dispute with the Dallas-based airline ahead of the busy Christmas travel season.

"The problem is killing our morale," said Jeff Jackson, the vice president of TWU Local 550, which represents some 500 Southwest Airlines flight dispatchers.

"We're just as involved in the airline operations. We design every flight plan for every Southwest Airlines flight. Share joint operational control with every pilot in command of every Southwest Airlines flight," said union member Kevin Thurston.

The union says the dispatchers haven't gotten a new contract since 2019.

"Southwest is all about the culture and these long, drawn out negotiations do not do that. It kills the culture." said Jackson.

The dispatchers are just the latest group of airline industry employees to picket.

In September, Southwest Airlines flight attendants held an informational picket outside Love Field over their contract dispute.

Earlier in November, American Airlines flight attendants picketed outside DFW Airport, where the Fort Worth-based carrier operates its largest U.S. hub.

"I think both sides have an interest in keeping this conversation alive in the public square, making consumers aware that these negotiations are happening," said Gabe Saglie, the senior editor for Travelzoo.

Saglie says many of these contracts were done prior to the pandemic.

He calls this a "new era" in aviation that has revealed new problems and concerns for airline employees.

"These employees are trying to keep their employers accountable for issues that they find obviously important, and that in the long run, it certainly can affect the travel experience," Saglie said.

Southwest Airlines released a statement to FOX 4 saying:

The union says if they reach an impasse with Southwest Airlines they could end up in mediation. The executive branch of the federal government could also get involved.

"Customers should absolutely be concerned," Thurston said.