Southwest Airlines and pilots’ union reach preliminary labor deal after years of contentious talks
After years of contentious talks, Southwest Airlines and its pilots’ union have finally reached a preliminary agreement on a new labor contract. The tentative deal, which was announced on Thursday, requires that flight attendants, mechanics and ground workers also approve the agreement, and Southwest must also ratify the deal.
The agreement comes after years of difficult negotiations between the two parties, with Southwest pushing for more flexibility in terms of scheduling and salary, while the union wanted greater job security and higher salaries for its members.
Under the new deal, Southwest and the union agreed to an average immediate 9% pay increase for pilots, and shorter duty days, with a minimum of eight hours of rest. Pilots will also see an additional 3% increase in pay for every year of their contract, up to a total of 32%.
In addition, the union will have a say in future scheduling and pay decisions, while Southwest has agreed to minimize the use of subcontractors to fill pilot-related positions.
The new deal will also provide pilots with improved retirement benefits, which include a 401(k) plan and up to 10 years of vested interest.
The agreement still needs to be ratified by both parties, but is a major step in the right direction for both Southwest and its pilots’ union.