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Southwest Airlines reaches “agreement in principle” with ground workers union

Charles Cerf, then president of Transport Workers Union 555, joined members of the union, ground workers at Southwest Airlines, as they staged an informational picket at Dallas Love Field on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. (Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall)
Charles Cerf, then president of Transport Workers Union 555, joined members of the union, ground workers at Southwest Airlines, as they staged an informational picket at Dallas Love Field on Tuesday, November 25, 2014. (Star-Telegram/Joyce Marshall) Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines reached an “agreement in principle” with its ground workers union on Wednesday.

Details of the agreement with Transport Workers Union Local 555, which represents 11,000 baggage handlers and ramp workers at the Dallas-based carrier, were not released by the union or the company as the union’s board will meet next week to discuss the agreement.

“The Union’s negotiating committee will present the terms and provisions of the agreement to its Executive Board, which will determine whether the AIP will be sent to members in the form of a tentative agreement,” said Southwest in a statement. “We have no further comment at this time.”

The union board may decide next week if members will be voting on the proposal in 2016. The TWU Local 555 and Southwest management have been in contract negotiations for four-and-a-half years and entered federal mediation in 2012.

Tensions rose between the union and management in November when Southwest filed a lawsuit against TWU Local 555 for what it deemed an “illegal work action.” The lawsuit said ramp workers staged an illegal sickout at four airports in Southern California on Nov. 18 and planned another in Orlando for the Friday before Thanksgiving. The work stoppage in Orlando did not occur, and the lawsuit is still pending in federal court in Dallas.

Southwest also suspended 100 ground workers earlier this month, saying the workers used a personal time off policy to take part in the illegal work stoppage. The union refuted the allegations and raised over $100,000 to support the workers who had suspensions without pay ranging from 45 to 90 days.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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