After what has been described as 20-years of “calm” labour relations, flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines will start balloting later this month on possible strike action after months-long contract negotiations hit a new impasse.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) which represents some 2,100 crew members at the airline describes “mounting frustrations” in the mediated contract talks.
The current offer being tabled by the airline is said to be well below what flight attendants are fighting for and the union claims it would leave them with less money than what they are currently earning.
The result from the ballot won’t be known until November 20.
In the meantime, flight attendants are planning a picket line at Hawaii’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to raise public awareness about the dispute and put pressure on airline management. The protest is the latest in a series of pickets that flight attendants have held at the airport in recent months.
“We transformed this job into a career over decades of bargaining; we are not going backwards,” says Sharon Soper, the AFA Hawaiian President.
“We will not agree to concessions while Hawaiian Airlines makes record profits.”
While Hawaii has one of the highest costs of living in the United States, the union claims flight attendant wages for its home airline has fallen below that of its competitors. The stalled negotiations have been ongoing for three years with little success.
If progress isn’t made soon, the National Mediation Board, which oversees disputes between airlines and unionized employees could declare a deadlock. If that happens, a 30-day cooling off period would start and then a strike could take place.
Ratcheting up pressure on the airline, the Association of Flight Attendants says it could then use its CHAOS strike strategy which stands for ‘Create Havoc Around Our System’ – the union would decide when, where and for how long a strike would take place without giving airline management or passengers any notice.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.