The pilots of Southwest Airlines officially voted to ratify a new five-year contract today. The new contract becoming amendable on September 1, 2011 but allows the two sides to begin bargaining discussions in July 2011. Over 87 percent of pilots voted in favor of the new contract with a voter participation rate over 93 percent.
“After we voted down the first agreement in June, we returned to the table to address areas our membership felt needed improvement,” said Capt. Carl Kuwitzky, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA). “We were able to negotiate positive changes in many of those areas, including scheduling flexibility and codeshare protections.”
The new contract provides increased job scope protections, pay rate increases, retirement contribution increases, scheduling and quality of life improvements, new procedures incorporating current technology, along with up-to-date contract language improvements.
“While SWAPA never considered this a ‘home run’ contract, our members felt it contained enough positive gains in a short-term deal to constitute ratification,” continued Capt. Kuwitzky. “We are pleased this contract will strengthen our job protection language by eliminating the company’s opportunities to hurt our pilot group in ways our peers have experienced. However, we look forward to returning to the table in 2011 to focus strongly on areas that will likely be a higher priority, such as compensation.”
The pilots and the company had been in negotiations on an agreement since it became amendable in September 2006, and this is the first new contract for the pilots in 15 years.