“Union leadership is reflecting on the tentative agreement,” Southwest spokesman Bob Hughes told ATW’s sister publication Aviation Daily. “We will resume talks when they’re ready.” There is no formal timeline for when talks may resume, he added.
This was confirmed by the TWU Local 556 negotiating team. “We are culling through feedback we’ve received as well as from our educators,” TWU spokeswoman Oriana Korin said.
TWU reports that 87% of eligible Southwest flight attendants rejected the tentative agreement, with 89% of the workforce voting during the 12-day balloting period last month. The new contract offered an immediate 8% ratification bonus and a 3% raise, along with guaranteed raises and bonuses over the six-year life of the deal.
Southwest’s flight-attendant contract became amendable in 2013, and was originally signed in 2008. It was set to expire in 2012 and extended by one year, Hughes said. TWU and the airline have been in talks for a new contract since May 31, 2013.
At issue is Southwest’s international expansion, Hughes said.
The carrier had flown some international routes it inherited upon acquiring AirTran Airways, but it began operating international flights on its own aircraft last year. The new contract would have factored in a work-rule change to allow for Southwest’s international expansion. Although Hughes did not go into detail on the changes, he said the new work-rules would have lengthened the duty day to allow for international expansion.
TWU addressed this issue in a memo, saying that “Southwest Airlines management sought controversial operational changes in the new contract to address its future business model. These proposed work-rule changes were considered by many voters to be overreaching and burdensome on flight attendants and their quality of work and family life.”
(Madhu Unnikrishnan - ATWOnline News)