Southwest Airlines reaches tentative agreement with mechanics’ union


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A worker directs a Southwest Airlines Co. Boeing 737 passenger jet pushing back from a gate at Midway International Airport (MDW) in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Monday, Oct. 11, 2021.
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Southwest Airlines said Friday that it has reached a tentative agreement with the union representing its mechanics, aircraft inspectors, maintenance controllers and training instructors.

The agreement, which covers more than 2,800 employees, would still need to be approved by those workers.

“Our Mechanics & Related Employees work around the clock to safely maintain our aircraft, and we reached a Tentative Agreement that rewards them and helps Southwest maintain an efficient operation,” Adam Carlisle, vice president of labor relations at Southwest, said in a press release.

The union and airline didn’t immediately disclose the details of the agreement but said they would in the coming days.

The union’s “goal and objective is to protect work, raise standards, and increase recognition of AMTs and related professionals,” said the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association’s national president, Bret Oestreich.

Meanwhile, negotiations for new contracts between Southwest and the unions representing its pilots and flight attendants are still pending.

Earlier this month, leaders at Transport Workers Union of America 556, which represents Southwest flight attendants, said they rebuffed a tentative agreement that would have allowed for a membership vote. The union said that federal mediators and the parties involved will not reconvene until Jan. 16.

“We are proud of the Agreement in Principle that was reached by the Southwest and TWU 556 Negotiating Teams, and we’re incredibly disappointed to learn that TWU 556’s Executive Board voted it down,” Southwest’s Carlisle said in a statement.

Last week, the local’s executive board told members: “Your TWU Local 556 Executive Board did not make this decision lightly. As Members ourselves, we are just as eager to vote on and ratify a worthy Tentative Agreement.”

Apart from the aviation industry, workers across the board have been striving for better compensation and better work rules, with many of their efforts culminating in strikes. Despite strike authorizations at some airline unions, such actions are extremely rare in the industry and require federal involvement.

Beginning on Friday in Seattle, nearly 3,500 workers at some Starbucks stores at more than 150 locations across the U.S. pledged to strike following a public dispute between the coffee giant and the union representing baristas regarding allegations that the company prohibited Pride Month decorations in its cafes.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has approved a strike authorization at UPS should the union and the company not reach a new labor agreement. The current national contract is scheduled to expire after July 31.

Southwest shares were down nearly 1% on Friday afternoon.

–CNBC’s Leslie Josephs contributed to this article.

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