Southwest Airlines and pilots’ union reach preliminary labor deal after years of contentious talks

After years of sometimes contentious and difficult negotiations, Southwest Airlines and the pilots’ union have reached a preliminary labor deal that will provide for higher wages and better working conditions for pilots. The tentative deal was reached in late 2019 and will be presented to the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) to vote on in the coming months. The agreement would upgrade employee contracts for the company’s 12,500 pilots, as well as place a higher priority on the safety of passengers and crew. The overall agreement is expected to give pilots a decade-long upgrade, with wage increases, better health care benefits, and improved workloads. The contract would also address a troublesome fatigue issue, increasing the number of hours off-duty and providing guaranteed rest periods. Additionally, the deal will allow pilots to take advantage of improved technology, such as automated aircraft tracking systems and analytics. Following the tentative agreement, the Southwest Pilots’ Union said that the new deal represents a major victory for the pilots and “will set a positive precedent going forward for our industry.”