Posted on: 30 August 2016 by Mark Howells
After more than a total of four years in talks, ten months of which were mediated following a rejected tentative agreement by the pilots of Southwest Airlines, negotiators for the union and the carrier have reached an agreement in principle on a new contract.
Further work on final language will occur this week and the board of directors for the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) will meet in mid-September to review the offer and decide if it should be put out for a membership ratification vote.
“While a new contract is certainly not a done deal, this is the next step in the process,” stated SWAPA’s president, Captain Jon Weaks. “Thanks in equal part to our economically justifiable position and unified pilot group, our negotiators were able to bring back an agreement worthy of review and discussion by our board of directors. However, the membership will have the final decision as always.”
The agreement would be valid until 31 August 2020 and provides pay-rate increases back to 2013, retroactive pay, and raises moving forward that will provide Southwest pilots with a compensation package that is market rate compared to pilots at Delta, United, and American.
There are also changes to the pilots’ retirement plans that align them with industry standard practices. For Southwest Airlines, the potential new contract will allow them to build limited partnerships with other airlines for near-international interline agreements and far-international codeshare, with enforceable restrictions.
“We have been pushing for a contract that both rewards the most productive pilots in the industry and positions Southwest to enhance future pilot recruiting by offering a competitive contract,” Weaks continued. “If our board or membership does not believe that this offer meets those needs, we will return to the negotiating table to continue working.”
If SWAPA’s board of directors puts the agreement out for a 30-day membership ratification, the vote would conclude in early November.