Southwest Airlines Ground Workers Approve New Contract

Southwest Airlines ground workers have narrowly approved a new contract that includes a 20-percent wage increase.

The Transport Workers Union Local 555 ratified the deal by a margin of 75 votes out of more than 9,300 votes cast.

The Local 555 union represents the Southwest employees who handle baggage, stock airplanes with refreshments, transport cargo and perform other duties while planes are at the gate.

Southwest and union leaders reached the deal in December after five years of negotiations. The contract includes pay raises and improved retirement benefits, but many union members say it does not go far enough to improve job security and working conditions.

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines reported a $2.4 billion profit in 2015.

Earlier this month, Southwest pilots picketed outside Dallas Love Field for the first time ever, displaying their frustration after four years of contract negotiations without reaching a deal with the airline.

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