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Southwest Airlines, pilots union reach terms of contract agreement

Southwest Airlines pilots picketed outside of Dallas Love Field on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. The pilots have worked without a new contract since 2012.
Southwest Airlines pilots picketed outside of Dallas Love Field on Wednesday, February 3, 2016. The pilots have worked without a new contract since 2012. Star-Telegram

Southwest Airlines and its pilots union reached an agreement in principle on a new contract that includes retroactive pay plus raises over the next four years.

The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association said the agreement will be considered by its board in September, which will decide whether to ask its 8,400 members to vote on the proposed contract.

“While a new contract is certainly not a done deal, this is the next step in the process,” SWAPA President Jon Weaks said. “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.”

The union said the proposed agreement would last through Aug. 31, 2020, and provide a 15 percent pay increase Oct. 1 to cover years when negotiations were occurring, 3 percent annual increases and retirement plan improvements, Bloomberg News reported.

If the SWAPA board agrees to send the agreement out for a vote, the ratification vote could conclude in early November.

“We appreciate our pilots and recognize their role in the company’s success,” said Southwest Chief Operating Officer Mike Van de Ven. “With the support and assistance of the National Mediation Board, the negotiating teams were able to reach an agreement that balances both the needs of our pilots and the company.”

The pilots have been in contract negotiations with Southwest for four years. The two sides entered federal mediation in 2014, and last year pilots rejected a proposed contract that included pay raises totaling 17.6 percent but created subsets for international and Boeing 737-MAX flying.

Last week, hundreds of Southwest pilots held signs in the ticketing and baggage claim areas of Dallas Love Field, declaring that they had no confidence in Southwest’s management. The union has held several informational pickets this year and has been joined by flight attendants and mechanics, whose unions are also in lengthy contract talks with the carrier.

Andrea Ahles: 817-390-7631, @Sky_Talk

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