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Southwest Flight Attendants Reject New Contract

The airline's flight attendants overwhelming rejected a proposed contract which had 36% cumulative pay raises.

Southwest Boeing 737s at Paine Field. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

Southwest Airlines flight attendants have rejected a potential new contract reached between the union and the airline. Only 36% of flight attendants voted in favor of the contract, the highlight of which was a 20% pay raise and additional 3% pay raises each year.

“We will go back to the table to achieve the collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of the hardest-working flight attendants in the industry,” said union president Lyn Montgomery in a statement. She adds that the union has been fighting for five years for pay raises the company has yet to provide.

“We are disappointed the industry-leading agreement reached between the negotiating committees was not ratified,” Southwest said. It will wait to hear from the union and the National Mediation Board.

“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,” said Adam Carlisle, Vice President of Labor Relations at Southwest Airlines.

The flight attendant union said this vote will not impact holiday travel. Its leadership encouraged flight attendants to relax during the holidays.

Southwest’s flight attendants are operating on a contract that became amendable in 2018, meaning it went into effect in 2014, nearly ten years ago.

Flight Attendants Rejoin Pilots

Southwest has been in the thick of negotiations with its pilot union, whose calls for a new contract were strengthened by the company’s operational issues last December. Officials report that an announcement for a contract proposal is imminent, according to CNBC.

Southwest’s flight attendants and pilots have said they are ready to strike, though the process for actually doing so would take time to put into action. American Airlines’ flight attendant union was recently denied a request to be released from the federal mediation process.

“We pushed out our negotiations, which were supposed to be this week, to next week,” said Julie Hedrick, the president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 28,000 American Airlines flight attendants. “We were waiting for the outcome. Now it’s been rejected. Flight attendants are letting managements know that they are not going to take what management could have gotten away with in the past.”

John McDermott
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  • John McDermott

    John McDermott is a student at Northwestern University. He is also a student pilot with hopes of flying for the airlines. A self-proclaimed "avgeek," John will rave about aviation at length to whoever will listen, and he is keen to call out any airplane he sees, whether or not anyone around him cares about flying at all. John previously worked as a Journalist and Editor-In-Chief at Aeronautics Online Aviation News and Media. In his spare time, John enjoys running, photography, and watching planes approach Chicago O'Hare from over Lake Michigan.

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