Southwest Airlines and its pilots’ union have announced a tentative five-year labor contract after years of contentious negotiations.
The tentative agreement, which was reached after nine months of negotiations between the pilots’ union, the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA), and the airline company, gives the airline’s pilots pay raises, improved benefits, and better job security.
The agreement includes provisions to increase the wages of pilots over the five-year life of the contract by upwards of 11 percent. Pilots will also receive increased vacation and sick leave pay, a new promotion system that will reward seniority, and an improved grievance process and arbitration to protect their rights.
The agreement is a major milestone for both parties and provides much needed stability to the airline industry. This is the first major labor contract achieved since the pandemic began, and as the airline industry begins to recover, it is sure to set a new standard for other airlines and pilot unions.
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly stated that the agreement “will help stabilize our operations and provide competitive pay and benefits for our pilots and other employees.” SWAPA President Capt. Jon Weaks said in a statement that the agreement “represents a major step forward for our pilots, and for the airline industry as a whole.”