Southwest Airlines reaches tentative agreement with ground workers union

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 1:09 PM PDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 555, representing roughly 19,000 Ramp, Operations, Provisioning, and Freight Agents at Southwest Airlines, has reached a tentative agreement with the airline that, if ratified, will provide ”industry-leading wages, parental leave, unprecedented caps on healthcare costs, and job protections among other improvements,” according to a media release.

Voting on the new agreement will begin on Sept. 8 and will conclude on Sept. 20. The agreement includes increased wages and a lump-sum bonus of roughly $70 million to be distributed between TWU 555 members. Additionally, members would receive a company contribution of 4% into each member’s 401(k) accounts with no match required, a 7% cap on increases on premiums for health plans, and up to 12 weeks of parental leave.

The agreement also includes language that guarantees Local 555 members will not be replaced by non-union contractors or replaced due to future enhancements in technology.

The tentative agreement, reached on August 9, came after over two years of negotiations. During that period, members continued working under their previous agreement, as union contracts in the airline industry are governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA) and do not expire.

“Southwest knows they cannot operate without the essential work of our members, who risked their health throughout the pandemic to ensure that passengers could continue to travel safely and critical medical supplies, such as vaccines, were transported and distributed throughout the country,” said John Samuelsen, TWU International President. “TWU Local 555′s Negotiating Committee fought hard and delivered for their members, compelling Southwest to finally give them the wages, benefits and protections they deserve.”

Following the tentative agreement, Local 555 will launch an educational initiative to ensure members are aware of all contractual changes before voting. The initiative will kick off with digital copies of the contract being made available to all members, followed by a video and a podcast series that highlight the major improvements in the agreement.

In addition to creating a phone bank where members will be able to call in and have questions answered by the Negotiating Committee, the Local Executive Board and the Negotiating Committee will visit members in person at airports across the country to discuss the new agreement.