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The Associated Press October 26, 2010, 3:37PM ET

Southwest pilots elect Dallas captain president

Pilots at Southwest Airlines elected a veteran captain as the new president of their labor union.

Steve Chase got 65 percent of the vote, the Southwest Pilots' Association said Tuesday. Chase has flown for Southwest since 1988 and is a member of the union board.

Chase, who is based in Dallas, will serve a two-year term as president, replacing Carl Kuwitzky.

Last year, union members rejected a company contract proposal, then voted five months later to approve a 5-year contract that contained smaller raises than the members wanted, Kuwitzky said at the time. Raises for 2010 were based on profitability, and they looked doubtful because the airline was losing money when the contract was ratified.

But Southwest has made money this year as traffic has improved and fares have gone higher. Last week, the union said pilots would get a 3 percent raise for 2010, which Kuwitzky hailed as validating the union's confidence in the company.

Jason Pettit, a first officer or co-pilot, was elected second vice president, also for two years. Pettit, also based in Dallas, will manage budgets and elections.

The union represents nearly 6,000 pilots at Southwest, the nation's largest discount airline.

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