Southwest is giving its mechanics a raise. However, eyebrows are obviously going up over the question of whether or not the so-called raise is really more of a hush payment. It’s no secret that Southwest has been locked in a battle with the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) and the mechanics it represents for quite some time.
How much of a raise will mechanics working for Southwest see? Southwest is giving mechanics a pay increase of 20 percent. The pay raise becomes effective on April 1 of this year. In addition, Southwest and the AMFA just agreed to a five-year accord that will give mechanics retroactive payments totaling $160 million. Mechanics are also being given an annual pay increase of 3 percent every August going forward.
Southwest’s very generous plans for its mechanics come after six years of unending lawsuits between the airline and the AMFA. A proposal that Southwest put forward back in September of last year was rejected by the union. However, it looks like all parties are satisfied this time around. The new agreement isn’t a totally done deal as of right now. Some last-minute details need to be settled and a vote must be taken among AMFA union members before the contract is official.
What made Southwest and the AMFA so eager to suddenly reach an agreement after years of fighting? There’s a good chance that recent revelations regarding the fact that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators have been urging Southwest and union representatives to reach an agreement to ensure that the safety of travelers isn’t being put on the line have something to do with it. All eyes are on Southwest as the carrier increases routes and introduces new flights to Hawaii. Officials want to make sure the carrier isn’t putting safety in the background as it rolls out ambitious new routes across the country. The spotlight on the airline became a little bit brighter this month after two planes collided on the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Much of the arguing that’s been going on between Southwest and its mechanics has to do with safety. Several mechanics have gone on the record to state their concerns over the fact that Southwest’s planes are supposedly falling apart. In addition, union members have told the press that airline management has actually pressured them to overlook safety problems. Some have even claimed that they’ve endured threats and intimidation when alerting their supervisors to the issues. Union members claim that Southwest is more concerned with getting planes up in the air than with making sure all aircraft are safe to fly. It’s no surprise that many people in the industry are finding Southwest’s sudden eagerness to give its mechanics a pay increase of 20 percent just a little too convenient.
[Image Source: Southwest Airlines]