The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), representing more than 9,900 pilots, today held the first round of direct negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement with Southwest Airlines. The pilots’ existing contract officially becomes amendable on August 31, 2020 but allows for a six-month “early opener” phase of negotiations for a new contract, which the union and the airline have agreed to exercise.
“Our goal is to ensure SWAPA members are appropriately compensated for being the most productive pilots in the industry,” said Capt. Jon Weaks, President of SWAPA.
“Among the major U.S. carriers, Southwest Airlines pilots fly far more hours and shoulder more liability than any other Pilot group through increased numbers of takeoffs and landings alone.”
The current contract was ratified by SWAPA membership overwhelmingly in November of 2016, after four years of negotiations which included ten months of federally mediated talks.
“Our union has worked for the past three years in preparation for these negotiations, and we look to achieve a collaborative agreement with Southwest Airlines without delay,” said Capt. Casey Murray, Chair of SWAPA’s Negotiating Committee.
“We have communicated extensively with our membership and based on their feedback, SWAPA proposed a completely rewritten Agreement that modernizes and simplifies our current language, much of which dates back to 1994.”
SWAPA negotiators will also seek improvements in scheduling efficiency and productivity, as well as improved disability benefits, retiree benefits and healthcare coverage.
“We believe in our Company, and we want Southwest Airlines to be the most attractive airline for pilots,” said Capt. Weaks.
“Our hope is that with our economically justifiable proposals, we can quickly reach a new contract that will make Southwest Airlines competitive and properly compensate our pilots for the critical work they do in delivering millions of Southwest passengers safely to their destinations, day after day, year after year.”
The negotiating teams plan to meet approximately every other week in the initial round of contract talks.