New Southwest contract gives ground service employees, airline stability through 2021

Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) ramp, operations, provisioning, and cargo agents have narrowly approved the tentative agreement that was reached with Union negotiators in late December, the airline said.

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 555 reports that 50.4 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of the five-year contract agreement.

The new contract provides wage increases and work rule improvements, while at the same time enhances Southwest´s competitive standing within the industry. Company leaders have long credited Southwest´s unparalleled success to its employees, who consistently deliver a great product, and to the company´s low-fare business model.

Negotiators for Southwest and TWU 555, which represents more than 12,000 Southwest ground operations, provisioning, and cargo agents, began contract discussions in mid-2011. The newly ratified contract becomes amendable in 2021.

In its 45th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with more than 49,000 employees serving more than 100 million customers annually. Southwest operates a network of 97 destinations across the United States and seven additional countries with more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season.