Sky Talk

Southwest flight attendants reject contract


Southwest Airlines flight attendants voted down a six-year contract that included wage increases and bonuses.

According to the Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents 12,000 flight attendants at the Dallas-based carrier, about 87 percent of its members voted against the contract. About 89 percent of the workforce cast ballots in the ratification vote.

“Our membership has given us our marching orders,” said TWU Local 556 president Audrey Stone. “The terms of the tentative agreement were passionately discussed, debated and ultimately rejected by the employees.”

The six-year tentative agreement included an 8 percent ratification bonus and a three percent raise in 2015. It also included three percent wage increases in 2017 and 2019 and three percent bonuses in 2016 and 2018.

“This agreement ensured that our flight attendants would stay atop the industry in pay and benefits,” said Southwest senior vice president of labor relations Randy Babbitt. “It improved the company’s competitiveness with certain work-rule changes and supported our evolving network, both domestically and in international markets. So naturally we’re disappointed that it didn’t pass.”

The union said proposed work rule changes in the contract “were considered by many voters to be overreaching and burdensome on flight attendants and their quality of work and family life.”

Southwest and the union will continue negotiations for a new contract as the flight attendants’ current contract became amendable in May 2013.

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