The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents the pilots of Hawaiian Airlines, started “informational picketing” today at the interisland terminal of the Honolulu International Airport. Earlier in the month the ALPA opened up a “strategic preparedness center,” near the airport to help coordinate phones and picketing, if no deal can be reached with the airline. This follows two years of unsuccessful talks between the two sides, that seems it might lead to the pilot’s going on strike.
The ALPA stated, “while progress was made, Hawaiian management still insists that any salary increases over 1%, or other contract gains, be paid for by pilots making offsetting concessions elsewhere in the contract. Based on the airline’s outstanding financial performance and the record bonuses management received last year, this lack of substantial movement has forced the pilots to call for a strike authorization vote.”
They have a valid point with profit changes. The current contract was negotiated in 2005 before Hawaiian emerged from bankruptcy and now the airline is making a profit. However, the airline business has volatile ups and downs. One quarter an airline can be in the black, making profit, the next, deep in the red and talking about bankruptcy. If an airline is going to protect itself for the bad times, then yes, it means there will be surplus in the good times.
The ALPA is seeking a 17% salary increase over four years, plus a 2.5% addition to the pension plan for pilots less than 50 years of age. The ALPA states the airline is offering only a 1% increase each year for four years, with possible additional increases in exchange for concessions in other areas.
Hawaiian Airlines’ CEO, Mark Dunkerley, states that the union is “mischaracterizing” the airlines offer and that a strike is not “imminent.” Dunkerley points out that the airline has offered its pilots a 20% increase over six years with profit sharing, for the ability to modify their bidding rules for new routes, allowing the airline to become more competitive.
The back and forth bickering sounds like a typical contract standstill. There are still quite a few steps before the pilots could strike. The union members need to authorize a strike and the government would also need to give the go ahead. Sadly, the people that lose out the most are the passengers, especially those that might be looking for a nice, much needed vacation to Hawaii.Image: CruisAir