More than 21,000 Southwest Airlines flight attendants could be going on strike in the coming months if the airline and union can’t reach an agreement on a new contract. Scheduling for on-call rotations, appropriate compensation for ground time, improved commuter policies, and the ability to have a safe place to sleep on overnights are among the contract improvements flight attendants are seeking, according to TWU Local 556, the union representing them.
This is the first time in the union’s history that flight attendants have taken a vote to authorize a strike against Southwest Airlines, and 98 percent of those voting were in favor. While the vote was in favor of a strike, that does not mean one is imminent. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement in federal mediation, the union could request to be released into a 30-day cooling-off period, after which over 21,000 Southwest Airlines flight attendants would be free to strike.
The vote to authorize a strike comes days after the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association approved a new contract with the carrier. With a voter turnout of 98.8 percent, the pilots accepted the new agreement with 92.73 percent in favor of the contract.
The prior contract became amendable in 2020 and it took more than three and a half years of negotiations to reach a deal that the pilots collectively believed was worthy. This new contract will run through December of 2028 and includes a date of ratification pay-rate increase of 29.15 percent followed by 4 percent raises in 2025, 2026 and 2027 and a 3.25 percent raise in 2028. It also includes sweeping changes to pilot scheduling, “industry-leading” maternity and paternity leaves, company-provided disability coverage, increases to retirement and continued Scope protections.
As for the flight attendants, up next is “Flight Attendant Worldwide Day of Action” on February 13. This is organized by the Association of Professional Flight Attendants and will include picketing at more than 30 airports globally.