Sky Talk

Southwest mechanics ask for federal mediation help in contract talks

A Southwest Airlines jet approaches a Love Field gate in Dallas, TX. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis)
A Southwest Airlines jet approaches a Love Field gate in Dallas, TX. (Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis) Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines’ mechanics union is asking federal mediators to step in on contract talks between the Dallas-based carrier and the union.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents Southwest’s mechanics, said it hopes federal mediation from the National Mediation Board will help the two sides reach a new agreement. The union and the airline have been in talks for almost three years with no new agreement in place.

“When we started these negotiations we anticipated that we would reach a tentative agreement and the negotiations would conclude in a reasonable time frame, especially in light of the unprecedented profits being enjoyed by Southwest Airlines, which our members play a significant role in achieving. Unfortunately, this has not been the case,” AMFA national director Louie Key wrote to Southwest in a recent letter.

The request for federal mediation comes a week after Southwest reached new tentative agreement with its flight attendants union that includes wage increases and possible bonuses. Flight attendants will vote on whether or not to accept the new contract in the coming weeks.

UPDATE: Southwest released the following statement this afternoon about AMFA’s request for federal mediation.

“The decision by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), the Union that represents Southwest’s aircraft maintenance technicians, to file for mediation comes as no surprise, and we welcome the opportunity to continue contract discussions. Unfortunately, so far we have seen very little movement from Union negotiators or even a willingness to consider ways to resolve our differences. We want to reward our Employees, and we will. Southwest Airlines Mechanics began these negotiations with an industry-leading agreement, and they will certainly have an industry-leading agreement when these negotiations are concluded.

“But it will be a fair agreement that protects all our Employees and their futures. It will be a contract that frees Southwest to grow and compete by increasing operational flexibilities. We are committed to the process and believe we can find a way to come to terms on an agreement that is fair, flexible and rewarding.”