Flight Attendants at Southwest Airlines Reject a Contract Their Union Negotiated With the Airline

DALLAS (AP) -- Southwest Airlines flight attendants have voted down a contract offer reached by negotiators for the airline and the union.

The Transport Workers Union Local 556 said Friday that the proposal was voted down 64% to 36%.

The local's president, Lyn Montgomery, said the vote followed five years of negotiations during which the flight crews have not received pay raises.

"We will go back to the table to achieve the collective bargaining agreement that meets the needs of the hardest-working flight attendants in the industry," she said in a statement.

Montgomery had previously said the offer would have given Southwest flight attendants industry-leading pay, 16% above crews at Delta Air Lines, who are non-union.

Dallas-based Southwest said, "We are disappointed the industry-leading agreement reached between the negotiating committees was not ratified." The airline said it would wait to hear about next steps from the union and the National Mediation Board, which has been involved in the negotiations.

Southwest is also negotiating with pilots, who have twice asked federal mediators for permission to begin a 30-day countdown to a strike, but have been rejected both times.

Flight attendants at American Airlines and United Airlines, who are represented by different unions than the one at Southwest, are also in talks over new contracts.

Airline workers have said they kept working through the pandemic and deserve higher pay now that most of the carriers have returned to profitability. Pilots at American, United and Delta have won raises of roughly 40% over five years.