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Southwest Airlines pilots overwhelmingly reject proposed contract

Southwest Airlines pilots voted on a new contract that included double-digit pay raises. (Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall)
Southwest Airlines pilots voted on a new contract that included double-digit pay raises. (Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall) Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines pilots overwhelmingly rejected a four-year contract that included significant pay raises.

The vote was 62 percent against the proposed deal and 38 percent in favor.

The tentative agreement would have run through April 1, 2019, and included pay raises totaling 17.6 percent. It also created pilot subsets for international and Boeing 737-MAX flying which the company had requested.

“Our membership has spoken and we will return to the bargaining table in order to bring our pilots a contract they can rally behind,” said Southwest Airlines Pilots Association president Capt. Paul Jackson. “Despite increased compensation and some work rule improvements, there were new company allowances in this agreement that our pilots did not find palatable when compared to the potential gains. While feedback was received during the voting process, we will need to pinpoint which exact issues our membership need addressed with the Company.”

The union’s board decided to send the agreement out for a pilot vote in September, even though the board did not endorse or reject the proposed agreement negotiated by its contract committee.

It will reconvene next week in Dallas and said it is ready to continue talks with management to try to reach a new contract deal. SWAPA represents 8,300 pilots for the Dallas-based carrier.

Southwest said that it expects mediated contract talks to resume next spring.

“In crafting this agreement, negotiators wanted to ensure that it recognized Southwest pilots for the important role they play in the company’s success,” the company said in a statement. “Now we must continue working until we reach an agreement that meets the needs of our pilots and the company.”

Southwest has reported record profits this year as it continued to carry more passengers with its new service at Dallas Love Field and Washington Reagan National Airport. For the third quarter, Southwest reported a record $584 million profit with revenues growing 10.8 percent to $5.3 billion.

The pilots’ existing contract has been amendable since September 1, 2012. The two sides entered federal mediation last year as they had been unable to reach an agreement on pay, retirement, scheduling and job scope issues. Southwest’s pilots will continue working under their existing contract as negotiations continue next year.

Southwest is currently in contract talks with seven different labor groups. Earlier this year, it reached a proposed contract with its flight attendants’ union, but the flight attendants overwhelming rejected the proposal.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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