Southwest Airlines comes to a tentative deal with dispatchers union with 17% raises

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines has come to a tentative contract deal with the union representing its 450 dispatchers that would give immediate 17% raises and scheduling

improvements, a positive sign for the carrier after a rocky year of labor relations. Southwest has now come to tentative deals with two major labor groups, including

customer service workers, but is still working to get agreements with pilots and flight attendants. The deal with dispatchers includes a group that mostly works in

Southwest’s flight operations center in Dallas, directing and coordinating the carrier’s 700 aircraft and crews across the country. Workers will get a signing bonus, a

17.1% immediate raise on the date of ratification and annual 3% raises starting June 1, along with improvements in schedule and the annual number of days worked, said TWU Local

550 president Brian Brown. “Herb Kelleher once said that ‘Dispatchers are the heart of the airline,’” Brown said. “We prove him right every day by ensuring a safe,

efficient, and reliable operation for our customers and flight crews.” Like other union groups, dispatchers have complained that they have been overworked since the airline

has pushed to ramp back up after the COVID-19 pandemic. Brown said dispatchers have often worked under mandatory overtime conditions as the group is understaffed. The

dispatcher union also complained about technology shortfalls during the company’s 16,700 flight cancellation meltdown during the holidays, warning that the company’s tech

infrastructure and point-to-point network had outgrown the carrier’s investments.