Southwest flight attendants again reject a negotiated labor contract

Southwest Airlines flight attendants have once again voted not to ratify a proposed collective bargaining agreement.

The agreement-in-principal, which had been negotiated between Transport Workers Union Local 556 and Southwest management, would have provided the airline’s 20,000-plus flight attendants with pay rate increases of 20% on Jan. 1.

Over five years, the contract would have provided a pay rate increase of 36%, along with improvements to benefits, scheduling and reimbursements.

Union membership rejected the agreement by a margin of 64% to 36%.  

In a statement, TWU 556 president Lyn Montgomery said that the union will now return to bargaining table. Southwest’s contract with its flight attendants became amendable five years ago. Union membership also voted against an agreement-in-principle in June. 

“After five long years of negotiations, which have included fighting both pay cuts and furloughs, enduring historic operational failures and working without raises to combat inflation or compensate for the extensive duties our members have to perform, the flight attendants of Southwest Airlines have made it clear that this proposed contract is not going to heal the hurt,” Montgomery said.

Negotiations between the union and Southwest management are being conducted under the auspices of the National Mediation Board (NMB). Southwest said the NMB doesn’t expect to resume negotiations until after the new year. 

“We are disappointed the industry-leading agreement reached between the negotiating committees was not ratified,” the airline said. “Our flight attendants will continue to be covered under their current contract and we’ll await next steps from the National Mediation Board and TWU 556.”

Flight attendants’ labor agreements at United, American and Alaska are also up for renegotiation. Last month, American Airlines flight attendants asked the NMB for permission to be released from mediation, a step that would set the stage for a potential strike.

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