Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Southwest Airlines, mechanic union reach agreement after years of negotiation

Southwest Airlines and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents more than 2,400 Southwest employees, have reached an agreement in principle for a new deal, the two sides announced Wednesday.

After a few more finalization steps, the agreement will be sent to the Southwest employees where they'll vote on whether to affirm the agreement. There is no timetable for when the vote will take place.

This has been a deal years in the making that has seen the AMFA lash out at the airline, especially after Dallas-based Southwest announced its intentions to begin Hawaii service.

"After nearly six years of negotiations, the parties have reached the stage where it is time for our members at Southwest to review and vote on a package produced by this protracted process," said Bret Oestreich, AMFA national director, in a prepared statement.

"We will now work toward educating our members as to the contents of the (agreement in principle) so that they can make an informed decision for them and their families," Oestreich added.

Southwest said the five-year agreement includes updated work rules, improved wages and benefits and a ratification bonus.

"The agreement is good for our people and helps Southwest maintain an efficient operation," said Russell McCrady, vice president of Labor Relations for Southwest, in a prepared statement.

Friction between the union and the airline has grown since Southwest announced its intentions to fly to Hawaii. AMFA said it October it would file a cease and desist order to stop the Hawaii flights from happening in part because the airline has such a low mechanic-to-aircraft ratio.

In February, AMFA lashed out again when it didn't like Southwest's plans to outsource mechanic work for Hawaii flights.

"Southwest continues to want to increase the outsourcing of the aircraft maintenance footprint," Oestreich told the Dallas Business Journal in February. "We do not want to negatively impact expansion to Hawaii, but AMFA needs black and white job protection language."

(Evan Hoopfer - Dallas Business Journal)

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