Southwest Flight Attendants Approve New Deal

Contract includes pay raise and other benefits.

Flight attendants at Southwest Airlines approved a new contract that gives them annual pay raises of 3 percent and bigger retirement contributions.

The Transport Workers Union, which represents the flight attendants, said Monday the contract was ratified by 89 percent of workers who voted.

About two-thirds of Southwest's 9,700 flight attendants cast ballots in electronic voting that ended at noon Monday. The union said the final tally for ratification was 5,308 to 652.

The union said flight attendants will get 3 percent raises in each of the first three years of the contract, while raises in the fourth year will depend on company performance. The deal is retroactive to June 2008 and runs through May 2012.

The contract also includes larger contributions to employee 401(k) retirement plans and improvements in leave policies, the union said. Negotiators for the company and the union reached a tentative agreement in March.

Thom McDaniel, president of the TWU Local 556, said Southwest flight attendants receive "industry-leading compensation" in exchange for efficient work rules that benefit the company.

"The ratification of this contract reinforces the core Southwest value of taking care of employees as a key to success," he said.
Chairman and Chief Executive Gary Kelly said in a statement that the contract "benefits our outstanding employees and also demonstrates a commitment to sustain our financial strength in an increasingly tough economy."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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