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The Mercury News: Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants Prepare for Strike Vote
Source: The Mercury News
Author: Kevin Smith
More than 2,100 Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants are preparing to take a strike vote as they lobby for fair pay and benefits.
The workers, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), allege their pay has fallen in comparison with the rest of the industry while the cost of living and medical expenses continue to rise. They are also seeking better retirement security and an assurance of continued protections on the job. Strike vote ballots will be sent to the employees late this month, with a vote count scheduled for Nov. 20.
The strike vote comes after nearly three years of stalled contract negotiations.
Another protest is planned
The workers plan to picket at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Wednesday, Oct. 9 to keep pressure on management. That comes on the heels of protests that were held in Honolulu and at Los Angeles International Airport over the past few months which drew hundreds of flight attendants.
Sharon Soper, a president with AFA’s Master Executive Council, said Hawaiian’s management has proposed minimal pay increases while also demanding concessions in healthcare premiums.
“They offered us a pay raise, but said ‘Now we also want to pay more for your medical insurance,’ ” she said. “That would put some of them underwater with no pay raise at all.”
First year Hawaiian flight attendants earn $24.50 an hour, while others who have served the company for 20 years top out at $55.52 an hour, Soper said. But those wages fall below that of other airlines.
“Flight attendants with United make $67 at the top of the scale and at Southwest it’s $71 an hour,” she said.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, the airline said it remains “focused on working with AFA negotiators through federal mediation” and hopes to finalize a new contract that recognizes employees’ contributions to the company’s success.
“It should be stressed that both parties remain actively engaged in negotiations, and our flight operations are unaffected by this latest union announcement,” the company said.
Union representatives said the lack of progress could lead to the National Mediation Board declaring that negotiations are deadlocked and releasing both parties into a 30-day cooling off period leading up to the strike deadline. If all else fails, AFA has a trademarked strike strategy known as CHAOS (Create Havoc Around Our System). If employed, that could affect Hawaiian Airlines’ entire system, or just a single flight, union officials said.
Soper said the two sides have scheduled another meeting for Oct. 22 in Honolulu and hope to reach an agreement.
Hawaiian Airlines offers connections to a variety of California cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose, as well as flights to Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Phoenix and beyond.
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