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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Southwest Airlines flight attendants contract offer includes 20% raises to start New Year

Southwest Airlines flight attendants picketing at the Dallas Love Field Airport in Dallas on Thursday, March 2, 2023.    (Lola Gomez/The Dallas Morning News/TNS)
By Alexandra Skores The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS – Southwest Airlines’ flight attendants will vote on a new tentative agreement that would mean a 20% raise to start the New Year.

For five years, Transport Workers Union Local 556, the union which represents Southwest’s over 20,000 flight attendants has been fighting for a new contract with the Dallas-based carrier. The pandemic, however, put a pause on negotiations in 2020. Flight attendants will vote on the agreement beginning Nov. 16 to Dec. 8.

Lyn Montgomery, president of TWU Local 556, said the new contract would make Southwest flight attendants the highest paid in the industry, 16% more than their counterparts at Delta Air Lines. Flight attendants at Delta are not unionized, but flight attendants at American Airlines and United Airlines are bargaining with their carriers.

“The membership has ultimate authority,” Montgomery said. “… Flight attendants need to look and determine what’s best for their family.”

Alongside the pay rate increase beginning Jan. 1, flight attendants will get a 3% annual raise on Jan. 1 in 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028, resulting in a 36% increase over the life of the contract for flight attendants at top-of-scale and up to 90% for other seniorities.

Also an “industry-first,” according to Montgomery, is paid parental and maternity leave with insurance coverage. Flight attendants will have a new reserve system, ending a 24-hour on-call period, and replacing it with three 12-hour shifts.

In June, the union’s executive board voted down a tentative contract, leaving the airline and union in mediation until an agreement was reached.

Still at the bargaining table are Southwest’s pilots in mediation and the carrier’s ramp, operations, provisioning and cargo agents in direct negotiations.

Flight attendants at Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines said its board of directors of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, the union that represents American’s 26,000 flight attendants, will meet on Nov. 17 to approve a request from the union’s negotiating committee. American recently wrapped up a contract with its pilots, and passenger service agents at American are still in negotiations with the carrier.

“It’s a long time coming,” Montgomery said.