Southwest Airlines has tentative deal with customer agents

Southwest Airlines inked a tentative new contract with its customer service employees Tuesday that includes wage increases and work rule improvements.

Southwest Airlines has tentative deal with customer agents

Southwest Airlines inked a tentative new contract with its customer service employees Tuesday that includes wage increases and work rule improvements.

Airline and union officials said the proposed deal is a four-year contract that would extend through Oct. 31, 2012. The airline has been negotiating the contract with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers since August 2008.

The union represents about 5,300 customer support and services employees and airport customer service employees at Southwest.

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“This industry-leading agreement provides substantial wage increases, fully retroactive back pay to Nov. 1, 2008, as well as work rule and benefit improvements,” said Tom Higginbotham, president of IAM District 142, in a statement. He added, however, that he was disappointed the deal did not include a traditional pension.

“This was the most contentious issue in this round of bargaining,” he said, adding that the union “explored and exhausted every avenue, every concept in attempting to bring about agreement on this issue.”

Southwest officials said they were pleased with the proposal, and said it would make employees more efficient at its call centers and airports. Specific details of the agreement weren’t disclosed Tuesday. The deal still must be approved by union members.

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