Southwest Finally Reaches Agreement with Mechanics “In Principle”

Mar 17, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

In a sign that things might just be getting better between Southwest Airlines and its mechanics, and after the airline recently declared an operational emergency in response to a spike in out-of-service aircraft, the two sides released a joint statement Saturday saying they have reached an agreement in principle for a new contract.

“After a week of mediation, including many long nights and early mornings, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) and Southwest Airlines have reached an Agreement in Principle (AIP) on Saturday, March 16, 2019, toward a new collective bargaining agreement. We are very pleased with the efforts of both Teams to find common ground on a new contract that is good for our Aircraft Maintenance Technicians and for Southwest Airlines,” the memorandum read.

Under the terms of the new five-year contract, the mechanics would receive $160 million in retroactive pay, an immediate pay increase of 20% that would take effect April 1, and a 3% annual pay increase each August. The mechanics also agreed to changes that would allow the airline to gain efficiencies and help reduce overall costs.

“Our Mechanics certainly deserve a new contract, and we believe this industry-leading Agreement in Principle addresses our Employees’ interests,” said Southwest’s Vice President Labor Relations Russell McCrady. “The parties were able to agree to a work rule change that allowed the Company to add compensation to the previous Tentative Agreement. I want to thank both negotiating teams for finding a solution that takes care of our People and protects the long-term success of our Company. I would also like to thank the National Mediation Board (NMB) for their expertise in helping us reach this agreement.”

Even with the latest steps, it will still take some time before the mechanics and the airline can put pen to paper to sign the new contract. AMFA National Director Bret Oestreich told TPG via email that both sides should have a “full tentative agreement this week” once the language of the contract is finalized. Once that happens, ballots will be sent to all AMFA members for their vote. According to the union, it will take about 60 days for the voting process to be completed.

“After more than six years of negotiations, we finally have a deal we can recommend for the best interest of our 2,400 AMFA-SWA AMTs,” read a statement from Oestreich. “I commend both sides for their hard work and tireless negotiating this past week to achieve this AIP. We also appreciate the assistance of the National Mediation Board and Mediators in guiding us to this point in the process. The Negotiating Committees are continuing to work together to finalize Tentative Agreement language, which will then be sent to the National Executive Council (NEC) for a final review, and then to the membership for their consideration and ratification vote. Further details regarding the ratification vote will be released when the TA language is completed.”

Mechanics at Southwest have been working for the past six years without a new contract in place. And recently, labor issues have become very public. The airline blamed the mechanics for pulling planes out of service for minor, non-flight safety-related issues, going so far as to file a lawsuit against the mechanics union. The mechanics said they felt pressured to keep planes in the air and overlook certain issues to maintain flight schedules.

The very public dispute between management and labor eventually drew the attention of the FAA. In an unusual move, the head safety regulator at the FAA issued a letter to the airline. This comes as Southwest prepares for its much-anticipated launch of flights to Hawaii. When asked if the recent developments had anything to do with the impending launch, both the AMFA and Southwest said no. “The agreement is a result of our ongoing negotiations…it’s not related to the timing of Hawaii,” a spokesperson for the airline said in a statement to TPG.

If finalized, the next time the new agreement would be amendable is August 16, 2024.

For the latest travel news, deals and points and miles tips please subscribe to The Points Guy daily email newsletter.

Featured Photo by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants in the first three months of card membership.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.