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Southwest was the last of the largest U.S. airlines to reach a deal with its pilots' union.

Southwest Airlines and its pilots’ union reached a preliminary labor agreement on Monday, ending three-and-a-half years of tense negotiations. 

The five-year contract is worth $12 billion and is one of the largest contracts, giving pilots significant raises, according to CNBC. United Airlines’ contract with its pilots union was worth $10 billion; Delta Air Lines was $7 billion; and American Airlines was $9.6 billion

“We are finally at a place where we think the value of our pilots and their productivity is being realized,” Southwest Airlines Pilots Association President Captain Casey Murray said in a statement. “Our pilots and Southwest Airlines customers deserve security and confidence in our future and we believe that this contract achieves that.” 

Southwest is the last of the Big Four airlines to reach a deal with its pilots union. 

“We are pleased to reach an agreement in principle with the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association for Southwest’s nearly 11,000 Pilots,” Southwest said in a statement. 

Now the contract will be evaluated by SWAPA’s 25-member board of directors. Once the board okays the contract, it will then be voted on by the union’s 11,000 members. 

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines reached record agreements with their respective pilots’ unions earlier in the year. The multi-billion dollar contracts gave pilots a hefty bump in pay, following years of sluggish negotiations caused by the pandemic. 

Pilots and flight attendants have been advocating for better pay and working conditions as the industry has been squeezed by labor shortages coming out of the pandemic. 

The agreement comes as the labor movement in the U.S. has experienced a banner year as different industries — ranging from auto manufacturers and actors and screenwriters — have successfully scored major deals to improve pay and working conditions. 

Southwest still has to reach an agreement with its flight attendants union, which recently rejected a preliminary deal. The flight attendants union plans to revote on the agreement due to technical issues with its voting system. 

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Tags: flight attendants, pilots, southwest airlines

Photo credit: Southwest Airlines CEO Bob Jordan and Brian Sumers in discussion at the 2023 Skift Aviation Forum. Source: Skift. Skift

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