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Southwest Airlines pilots approve a new contract, ending 4 years of negotiations

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines pilots’ new contract provides a double-digit pay raise.
(Chris O’Meara / Associated Press)

Southwest Airlines pilots overwhelmingly approved a new contract on Monday that included double-digit pay raises and increased retirement contributions.

More than 84% of the Dallas-based carrier’s pilots voted for the new four-year deal, which will become amendable in August 2020.

“This has been an incredible year of pilot unity and resolve. We are now seeing the results,” said Jon Weaks, president of the Southwest Airlines’ Pilots Assn. Of the 8,400 pilots represented by the union, 96.3% cast ballots in the contract ratification vote.

The agreement includes an immediate 15% pay increase followed by annual raises of 3% in the next four years of the contract. The pilot’s retirement plan will move from a 401(k) program to a defined contribution plan.

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“This forward-looking agreement delivers the operational flexibility needed to grow our network and ensures that Southwest will remain well-positioned for long-term success in our intensely competitive industry,” said Alan Kasher, Southwest’s vice president of flight operations.

The pilots have been in contract negotiations with Southwest for more than four years and entered federal mediation in 2014. Last year, pilots rejected a proposed contract that included pay raises totaling 17.6% but would have created subsets for pilots who worked international flights and operated Boeing 737-MAX aircraft.

Last week, Southwest’s flight attendants approved a new two-year contract that included a 12.45% compounded wage increase and a 15.9% bonus.

Ahles writes for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram/McClatchy.

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