DALLAS, Nov. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA) today announced that members have voted to approve a new contract with Southwest Airlines. With a strong voter participation level of 96.3 percent, the pilots accepted the new agreement with 84.26 percent voting in favor and 15.74 percent against. With a contract amendable in 2012, it took more than four years of negotiations, including a failed first attempt last year, to reach a deal that the pilots collectively believed was suitable. This new contract will run through August of 2020. "This has been an incredible year of pilot unity and resolve. We are now seeing the results," said SWAPA President Capt. Jon Weaks. "The new CBA is the first step in SWAPA's global strategy moving forward. We are not going to slow down. We will continue to be unconventional disrupters for the good of our pilots, our profession, and our company." The agreement includes a date of ratification pay-rate increase of 15 percent followed by 3 percent raises in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. The pilots' retirement plan will now move from a company-matching contribution to their 401(k) program to a more industry-standard defined contribution plan in which the pilot does not have to contribute themselves in order to receive the retirement benefit. Those rates will be 13.4 percent of salary in 2017, 14.2 percent in 2018, and 15 percent moving forward beginning in 2019. SWAPA's contract also contains the strictest job scope and codeshare language in the industry, with very strong protections as Southwest Airlines seeks out foreign-airline partnerships. "SWAPA will be aggressively monitoring the implementation phase of this contract, especially Section 1, while also working on ways to improve our pilots' quality of life and membership services from our union," continued Weaks. "We will also work diligently to lead this company's operation back to a level of which we can all be proud."