Here's how much a Southwest Airlines pilot makes

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Southwest Airlines and its pilots have been in federal mediation over a new contract and have been unable to come to terms.

The two sides have actually been negotiating for roughly 3 1/2 years with no end in sight.

This comes even as rivals United (UAL) - Get Free Report, American and Delta have reached deals that give their pilots large raises.

Those deals should set the basic guidelines for an accord between Southwest Airlines (LUV) - Get Free Report and its pilots, but no agreement has been reached and the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association has asked to be released from mediation.

The request was denied, which legally kept the airline's pilots from striking. That, however, does not mean that an agreement is near or that work actions will not take place.

Southwest's pilots can't strike but they can hold sickouts, which are a quasi-legal way to disrupt the airline. The union has not threatened to do that, but it has gone on the offensive to make clear that wages are not the key issue preventing a deal. The pilots union president, Capt. Casey Murray, explained in a recent interview with Aviation Daily that salary was not the core issue being debated.

“I feel confident when I say that we’re the only labor union in the world that is not trying to work less and get paid more; we’re trying to provide efficiency so that we work smarter,” he said. “That’s our main sticking point in negotiations -- simply trying to drive some efficiencies in how we are being used.”

The union has made clear that quality-of-life issues for its members, which it believes will benefit passengers, are the core issues preventing a deal. That makes sense because the United, Delta (DAL) - Get Free Report, and American Airlines (AAL) - Get Free Report deals set a framework for the pay-related part of Southwest's deal.

How much do Southwest pilots make?
Southwest's contract with its pilots is not public. The airline does not share its wage scale openly, and pilots generally have kept numbers pretty close to the vest. That's likely because they are well paid and about to get a roughly 40% increase when a new deal is reached, based on the terms of the United, Delta, and American deals.

One Southwest pilot emailed TheStreet to share salary details for Southwest pilots. He asked to be kept anonymous due to fear of reprisal from the union.

"You should put our union on the record on how much our average pilot makes which is waaaaay more than the published minimum. It would shock the average citizen. We make more than the average doctor and lawyer, and a college degree is no longer required," he shared.

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