Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, flight attendants reach tentative pact tied
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
By PETER JOHNSON / The Dallas Morning News
Southwest Airlines Co. and the union representing its flight attendants said
Wednesday that they had reached a tentative agreement on pay, rules and
working conditions tied to the use of larger aircraft on Southwest flights.
Southwest said last month that it might buy some Boeing 737-800 planes,
which can carry more passengers than the Series 700, 500 and 300 Boeing 737
models that the Dallas-based carrier currently flies.
Shortly after the announcement, airline officials began talks with the
unions representing flight attendants and pilots on changes to their
"As a result of these talks, we have reached an agreement which ensures that
the contractual variable pay increase [tied to the company's 2010 financial
performance] will not be less than 2 percent," Thom McDaniel, president of
Transport Workers Union Local 556, which represents flight attendants, said
in a written statement Wednesday.
"The tentative agreement also calls for company-paid training, the formation
of a labor-management committee to address any ongoing work rule issues and
a one-year contract extension," he said.
The agreement will be presented to union members for a ratification vote.
Because of the long lead time necessary for ordering new planes, the
ratification process must be completed by Dec. 1.
Mike Van de Ven, Southwest's chief operating officer, applauded the union
for its quick agreement.
"The fact that we can have these discussions over the course of a couple of
meetings and quickly find a common ground that is a win for our company and
our flight attendants is a testament to the collaboration and long-term
vision of the flight attendants' union leadership," he said in a prepared
Van de Ven noted that the decision to add the 800 series plane isn't final
and that the carrier was still in discussions with the pilots union.
Carl Kuwitzky, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, said
in a recent note to union members that he was "disappointed in the lack of
progress" made so far in the talks with Southwest.
"We have seen few issues resolved and lack of movement by the company to
address our proposals," he said.
Of concern to the pilots is the likelihood that the increased capacity of
the 800 series would increase the amount of time a jet is on the ground
between flights, thus increasing the length of pilots' time on duty.