Southwest Mechanics Approve New Deal

Chris Sommer
May 21, 2019 - 6:12 pm
Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8

© Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren for USA TODAY

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DALLAS (KLRD) - The last time mechanics for Southwest Airlines had a contract, President Barack Obama was still in his first term in office and the Texas Rangers were coming off another World Series appearance.

A seven-year struggle ended Tuesday, when the union representing about 2,500 Southwest mechanics voted overwhelmingly to approve a new contract with the carrier.  The previous deal ran out in August 2012, triggering the long-running labor saga between the two sides.

In a statement, Southwest officials hailed the deal.  "Our Mechanics will receive well-deserved pay increases, and the Company will realize additional flexibilities necessary to compete in today's airline industry," said Vice President of Labor Relations Russell McCrady.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association also released a statement.  It said, "Our focus now shifts to working together with Southwest Airlines, as we do the important work of restoring the safety culture Southwest Airlines has traditionally been known for."

Earlier this year, Southwest sued the mechanics' union, claiming the employees were engaging in an illegal work slowdown that forced a notable number of cancellations.  Union officials claimed the mechanics were grounding planes over safety concerns.

The new agreement with the mechanics' union runs through 2024.  According to the union, it includes $160 million in back pay, immediately boosts salaries by 20% and also features annual raises of 3% for the length of the contract.

Ratification of the contract was announced by Southwest and the union just one day after Fort Worth-based American Airlines filed a federal lawsuit against two of its mechanics' unions.  American claims the organizations are attempting illegal work slowdowns to gain leverage in contract talks that have been ongoing since 2015.