Southwest Airlines, Agents Reach Tentative Agreement on New Contract

DALLAS (The Dallas Morning News/MCT) -

Southwest Airlines and the union representing about 6,000 customer-service agents and customer support and services representatives said Wednesday that their negotiators have reached a tentative agreement.

The deal, which must be approved by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers-represented employees, is the first labor deal reached by the Dallas-based airline out of a number of contracts currently in negotiations.

“After more than two years of negotiations, with many distractions and ups and downs, your negotiating committee has reached a tentative agreement with the Company,” IAM District Lodge 142 President and General Chairman David Supplee said in a message to members. “Without your solidarity and support, this would not have been possible.”

“I applaud the efforts of both parties in reaching a tentative agreement that incorporates rewards and incentives for our hard-working customer-service agents and customer representatives, while remaining mindful of Southwest’s low cost structure and long-term success,” Southwest chief operating officer Mike Van de Ven said.

“Reaching mutually beneficial contracts for Southwest and our people remain a top priority for us, and I’m hopeful that this tentative agreement is the first of several to come in the near future,” said Van de Ven, an executive vice president.

The four-year contract, which will go before the membership for a vote, includes pay raises and a “me-too” clause.

“The IAM is leading the contract settlements at Southwest Airlines,” the union said in a fact sheet outlining details of the proposed contract. “We demanded and received written assurances (‘me too’) that if the company later provided larger percentage wage rate increases, larger percentage company 401k contributions and retroactive pay for another workgroup in ground ops, our members would receive the same value on top of all the other provisions of our contract.”

The current contract became amendable in October 2012.