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Southwest Airlines mechanics seek federal mediation on contract talks


The union that represents Southwest Airlines aircraft maintenance technicians asked the National Mediation Board on Monday to help out in the prolonged contract talks with the airline.

The Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association said it had asked the federal mediators to intervene to speed up the talks, which began nearly three years ago.

AMFA released an excerpt from a letter than AMFA national director Louie Key sent to Southwest chairman and CEO Gary Kelly.

“When we started these negotiations we anticipated that we would reach a tentative agreement and the negotiations would conclude in a reasonable timeframe, especially in light of the unprecedented profits being enjoyed by Southwest Airlines, which our members play a significant role in achieving,” Key wrote. “Unfortunately, this has not been the case.”


Flight attendants reach tentative agreement with Southwest Airlines


Southwest Airlines and its flight attendant union announced Thursday evening that they’ve reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. Terms were not disclosed, although the union described as improving an industry-leading contract.

Audrey Stone, president of Transport Workers Union Local 556, told members in a message that the union’s executive board voted Thursday afternoon to send the deal out for a vote.

“We’re very excited about this tentative agreement that we are able to reach. Throughout this process, you have told us what your top issues are and we believe you’re going to see an agreement that absolutely addresses your priorities,” Stone said in the message.


Southwest Airlines, unions struggle toward new deals

While the bankruptcies of major competitors opened opportunities for Southwest Airlines, it also caused problems between the airline and its unions.

The issue: Southwest saw its labor advantage erode as Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, American Airlines, US Airways and Northwest Airlines cut the wages and benefits of their employees and boosted productivity in bankruptcy court contracts.

The result: Southwest unions have had to wait extraordinarily long times to gain new deals with the Dallas-based carrier. That wait has caused hard feelings and claims that Southwest management may have lost that loving feeling the company was built on.

“We don’t have that culture anymore. It’s gone,” said Greg Puriski, president of the union local that represents ramp workers. “I think we’ve pretty much accepted that it’s gone, and that’s not ever going to come back to the way it was.”


Southwest Airlines hiring hundreds of customer service reps


Southwest Airlines has taken off on a hiring spree, and Albuquerque is one of its primary stops.

The country’s largest domestic carrier announced Friday it is looking to hire 650 new customer-service representatives at its call centers in Albuquerque, Phoenix and San Antonio.

It’s not clear how many of those positions would ultimately be filled in Albuquerque; a spokeswoman said that has yet to be decided.

“The demand and qualified candidates will determine where the positions will be filled,” spokeswoman Emily Samuels told the Journal in an email.

Southwest Airlines’ call center in Albuquerque has approximately 250 full-time employees.


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