Almost all (99%) of the 98% of qualified pilots who voted favored authorization. The vote does not mean a walkout is imminent and Southwest, in a statementsaid the result had “no impact on our scheduled operations.”
For the past three years, Southwest and its pilots’ union have been working on a new deal, but have failed to agree. Pressure increased on the airline earlier this year when Delta Air Lines agreed to a industry-changing pilot contract which offers $7 billion in higher pay and benefits.
And since negotiations failed to produce an agreement, the rhetoric on both sides began to escalate.
“A lack of leadership and an unwillingness to face the failures of our organization has brought us to this point,” Casey Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, said in a statement. “Our pilots are tired of apologizing to our passengers for a company that refuses to put its priorities on internal and external customers.”
“Our negotiating team continues to trade in good faith and work to reach a new agreement to reward our Pilots,” Adam replied. Carlisle, vice president labor relations at Southwest Airlines in a statement of his own. “This expected result of the consent vote does not change our commitment to the negotiation process, and we look forward to continuing SWAPA discussions at the negotiating table.”
Southwest and its pilots may still have a long way to go, but in the past few months it has reached collective bargaining agreements with other work groups, including its meteorologists and customer service employees.
In January, the carrier also offers millions in bonus pay of its employees for holiday troubles, leaving many workers helpless and stranded passengers. Southwest gave approximately $45 million to its pilots’ union, which works out to about $4,500 per pilot. That’s on top of the bonuses already given for holidays and flight reassignments.