Southwest Airlines has just struck a deal with over 12,000 flight attendants to improve pay and working conditions over the next five years.
Southwest Airlines has reached a tentative agreement with the flight attendants union, the largest labor organization in the airline industry. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the agreement has positioned the Dallas-based airline to finalize a multiyear contract that would increase workplace efficiency and give flight attendants a pay raise.
The union represents over 12,000 Southwest flight attendants, and leaders voted this Thursday to put the agreement out for a vote from its entire body of members. The specific terms of the contract were not disclosed to the public when the announcement was made.
Southwest is the country’s leading domestic airline, and is also currently negotiating with leaders of the pilots, ramp workers, and mechanics unions at this time. The agreement with the flight attendants would carry on into May of 2019 and would provide pay bumps, bonus opportunities, and adjustments to work-rule.
According to Audrey Stone, the president of the Transport Workers Union, the deal also involves benefit and scheduling improvements, as well as better protections for senior employees. The union proudly proclaimed that its members would still be the highest-paid in the airline industry. “We believe you’re going to see an agreement that absolutely addresses your priorities,” Ms. Stone told attendants in a video address.
The flight attendants union’s contract was supposed to be renewed more than two years ago, but negotiations have been moving at a snail’s pace. Nearly 83 percent of all Southwest employees are union members, and the airline regularly negotiates with them on a large scale such as this. The deal with flight attendants could affect talks between unions and other airlines in similar negotiations, specifically United and Continental Airlines.