DALLAS — Southwest Airlines on Monday reached an interim agreement with a union representing its customer service workers that would grant pay increases totaling more than 16% over the next three years for about 7,000 employees.
The machinists’ union said its bargaining committee unanimously recommended that members approve the treaty in an upcoming ratification vote. The union said it had 108 members in St. Louis.
The deal is the latest sign of inflationary pressures on airlines, which are also facing higher fuel costs. During the pandemic, Southwest has seen fewer people apply for some open positions, prompting the Dallas-based airline to raise starting salaries for many airport jobs.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers published a summary of the preliminary contract. Workers would receive immediate increases of 6.5% and 3% annual increases each of the next three years, for a compound increase of 16.4%.
The union said the deal also strengthened regulations on mandatory overtime.
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Inflation and air travel’s ongoing recovery from the pandemic are giving airline workers more leverage to demand higher wages.
This month, flight attendants at American Airlines subsidiary Piedmont Air agreed to a deal with “significant” pay rises and a bonus. Two weeks ago, plane mechanics and cabin cleaners at Horizon Air, an Alaska Airlines subsidiary, voted 93% to reject a proposed new contract because their union said the pay increases were too small.
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