Flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines have tried a slightly different approach to their months long protests at Honolulu Airport in an attempt to win a fairer contract and increased pay. Rather than the noisy demonstrations and placard waving that has become a regular occurrence outside the airport terminal, flight attendants instead helped passengers with bags at the curb side to show their ‘Aloha spirit’.
“We really decided to change the message,” explained Jaci-Ann Chung, the local executive council president with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA).
“… and our message today was about showing the best of the flight attendant group to the traveling public and to the company,” she continued in comments to Pacific Business News.
“We felt that this was a more natural extension of what the flight attendant community is.”
Last month, flights attendants represented by AFA voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action if a deal over pay and conditions can’t be struck. 99.9 per cent of flight attendants approved strike action with a turnout of over 95 per cent.
It’s the first time in the airline’s 90-year history that flight attendants have ever approved strike action.
Negotiations have dragged on for over three years with little progress made to date. AFA claims pay for Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants has fallen below the industry average. At the same time, Hawaii has become one of the most expensive places to live in the United States.
Jon Snook, chief operating officer of Hawaiian, told Hawaii News Now that the company is aware that flight attendants have “fallen behind in the pay.”
Snook said the airline would “have to find a way to put pay in their pockets.”
A spokesperson for Hawaiian has previously that the airlines remains “committed to reaching an agreement soon on outstanding contract items.”
Flight attendants would only be allowed to strike if the National Mediation Board declares a deadlock and releases the two sides into a 40-day cooling off period.
At the end of this cooling off period, AFA would be free to call a walkout at any time. The union says it uses a proven method, which it calls CHAOS, whereby a strike could hit at any time and at any airport across Hawaiian’s network with little to no notice.