June 4, 2009

Southwest pilots vote to reject contract

A slim majority of Southwest Airline pilots voted to turn down a five-year contract offer due to disagreements on scheduling and work rules, their union said.

Our pilots have spoken, and the group stated there is more work to be done, said Southwest Airlines Pilot Association President Carl Kuwitzky, after 51 percent of union members voted against the contract, the Fort Worth, Texas, Star-Telegram reported Thursday.

Our pilots really value their quality of life, Kuwitzky said.

The union plans to poll its members to find what specific issues were deemed negative, he said. In a memo to pilots, the union said the contract offer included pay raises, retroactive pay and streamlined scheduling.

We reached a tentative agreement in good faith, and both sides put a lot of effort into getting to this point, said Chuck Magill, vice president of flight operations at Southwest.

Magill said the company was naturally disappointed at the outcome of the vote, but we welcome the opportunity for our negotiating teams to re-engage and work toward an agreement that best meets the needs of our company and our outstanding pilots during these challenging economic times.

Pilots will continue working under terms of the previous contract, the newspaper said.