After months of contentious negotiations, Southwest Airlines and the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Union (SWAPA) have reached a preliminary labor agreement. The union, which represents over 10,000 of the airline’s pilots, declared that it had “reached a consensus” and announced that negotiations will now move to a contract ratification process.
The agreement is the culmination of three years of negotiations and marks a major milestone in the fight for a new labor contract for SWAPA members. SWAPA sought higher wages and improved benefits for pilots, who have gone years without a contract following disputes over scope clauses and other issues, leading to acrimonious negotiations. Negotiations finally reached a solution after the parties agreed on a pay raise and a new retirement system.
As part of the agreement, Southwest Airlines would raise pilots’ hourly rate by 32% over the next five years, while improving their retirement benefits and increasing vacation days. The revised scope clause also aims to give pilots greater job security and protect them from outsourcing, while also allowing the airline to use new technologies like fleet wide automation and modern safety and operations systems.
The deal still needs to be ratified by the full union membership, but its implementation will be a huge accomplishment for both sides and marks a major turning point in the negotiations. Under the regulations set by the agreement, Southwest Airlines would be able to expand its services and operations while offering its employees the much-deserved compensation they have been fighting for.