Mechanics for Southwest Airlines, represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), have voted to ratify a new contract through 2024, ending more than six years of contentious negotiations that led to multiple rounds of public finger-pointing and lawsuits between the two sides.
The vote was approved overwhelmingly by a vote of nearly 95%, with close to 94% of the union’s 2,500 members participating.
“This agreement represents a justifiable increase in pay and benefits, protections in headcount, work-rules and work normally performed by our unified members for decades,” said AMFA national director Bret Oestreich. “The increases are earned as compensation for their daily responsibilities as aviation maintenance technicians (AMT) during a time of economic growth, experience and knowledge on the 737 and record profits for this radically changing airline industry.”
The union said the new agreement is a “massive increase” from the tentative agreement its members overwhelmingly rejected in September 2018, as well as a “significant increase” from Southwest’s previous proposal earlier this year. It said the biggest concession was to allow the company to continue foreign outsourcing.
The agreement will provide AMTs a base wage increase of 20%, as well as a ratification bonus of $160 million and a smoothed base rate increase of 2.78% going back to 2012. The deal will become amendable by August 2024.
"Our mechanics will receive well-deserved pay increases, and the company will realize additional flexibilities necessary to compete in today's airline industry," said Southwest VP - labor relations Russell McCrady. "This new contract benefits all parties as it takes care of our people and preserves the long-term health of Southwest Airlines."
Southwest filed a lawsuit against AMFA in February alleging the union’s leadership had orchestrated a work slowdown by driving up maintenance write-ups on the airline’s Boeing 737s. AMFA maintained at the time the sudden spike in write-ups was tied to several in-service events, such as a jump in weather-related damage, and underscored that each issue mechanics discovered was documented.