Hawaiian Air flight attendants are going to hold a strike vote next month. This comes amidst stalled contract negotiations at a time when Hawaiian can ill afford the disruption of a strike.
If you’ve been following along, you’d know that Hawaiian’s flight attendants have been working without a contract for over two years now. Negotiations have been ongoing for quite some time, with flight attendants picketing a few times so far, including once in June and once in August here in Honolulu.
The reason for the protracted contract talks, as you’d imagine, comes down to pay. After all, Hawaii’s cost of living is incredibly high. Yet, a seven-year veteran at Hawaiian earns less than their equal at American, Delta, and Southwest. SOUTHWEST. You know, the airline that’s finally brought reasonable pricing back to Hawaii’s inter-island market. And by year 13, Hawaiian’s flight attendants make less than those at nearly every other major U.S. airline. Sad, isn’t it? And, despite this, current negotiations have resulted in a trivial bump in pay, along with concessions in 401(k) and healthcare benefits, resulting in a net pay reduction.
While news around negotiations has been quiet recently, unfortunately, no news isn’t good news. It appears that representatives of both Hawaiian and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) have reached an impasse. As a result, Hawaiians over 2,100 flight attendants are receiving strike vote ballots later this month, whith a final vote count scheduled for November 20, 2019.
Just because AFA members vote to strike, though, doesn’t mean one will happen. At the moment, both parties are under the mediation of the National Mediation Board. In order for a strike to proceed, the Board would have to declare a deadlock and release both parties into a 30-day “cooling off” period. Once that period is complete, the AFA can move to strike.
Given the timing of this all, if a strike happens, there’s a sizeable chance that it’ll happen during the busy holiday season. Add to that Southwest’s accelerating Hawaii plans and you have a perfect storm for Hawaiian.
Hawaiian Air Flight Attendants to Hold Strike Vote, Final Thoughts
This whole situation is rather unfortunate. While I understand Hawaiian’s desire to control its costs, undercutting your employees isn’t the way to do so. Especially when you’re already paying them less than most of their peers in the U.S. I could see if Hawaiian’s flight attendants were top earners among their peers, but they’re not. So, there’s no excuse, Hawaiian.
While no strike is imminent at the moment, the gravity of the situation is hard to ignore. And the AFA isn’t backing down any either. In fact, they have another picket scheduled for Wednesday, October 9, at 11:00 am at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Again, these pickets are informational only and done on flight attendants’ own time. They will in no way impact flight or airport operations.