Southwest Airlines Ground Workers Reach Deal for Pay Bump

Average Raise Over 18% for Ramp, Operations, Provisioning and Freight Agents
Southwest Airlines workers
Transport Workers Union Local 555 members still must vote to ratify the contract offer from Southwest Airlines. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dalls Morning News via TNS)

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Southwest Airlines has reached a contract with its ramp, operations, provisioning and freight agents that’ll give workers an average pay increase of over 18%.

The nearly 18,000 workers represented by Transport Workers Union Local 555 haven’t received a pay increase in almost three years, according to the union. The contract also sets a wage rate of $38 an hour for top-of-scale employees, which is 6.6% above United Airlines’ wage rate for these workers at $35.65.

Members will have to vote to ratify the new deal and the union will notify employees of a voting timeline.

“This tentative agreement provides much-needed raises and quality-of-life benefits for our hardworking members at airports across the country,” Alex Garcia, TWU International executive vice president, said in a release.

TWU Local 555 originally had reached a deal in August, but that agreement was ultimately voted down by its membership. Ground workers and their union were critical of Southwest during operational troubles last summer, saying that poor planning and poor treatment of workers were behind some problems with cancellations and delays. The union went after the Dallas-based company following the December holidays meltdown in which Southwest canceled over 17,000 flights. It blamed the carrier for failing to invest in the tools needed to keep planes running on time.


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“Our ramp, operations, provisioning and cargo agents help us deliver the Southwest experience to our customers — from welcoming customers as they board our planes, to handling all of the bags, to restocking aircraft galleys, to moving millions of pounds of cargo each year,” Adam Carlisle, vice president labor relations at Southwest, said in a release. “This agreement rewards them for their hard work, and I’m grateful for the dedication shown by both negotiating committees as they worked to reach this agreement.”

The agreement also allows workers to reach the top of the pay scale faster, after 10 years of service, down from the current 11 years. It also including a 401(k) match of 10%, alongside a $140 million lump-sum bonus for workers, more than double what was previously offered.

Since October 2022, Southwest work groups have ratified new agreements. In January, the airline’s pilots approved a new five-year contract worth $12 billion and a pay boost of 50% over the life of the deal. Meanwhile, the Dallas-based air carrier’s flight attendants voted to authorize a strike that same month.

“We’ve worked tirelessly to get to this point because we recognized how important it was for our members to receive these improvements quickly,” said Randy Barnes, president of TWU Local 555.

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