In a first ever in the airline’s 90 year history, Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants began voting today on an upcoming strike. The 2,100 attendants will decide what action to take by November 20.
That after multiple picketing efforts failed. The workers say they’ve been fighting for almost three years for a new contract. Ballots are scheduled to be vounted on November 20. That after labor negotiations over the past two years.
We’re continuing to watch these developments closely, as we are both planning to fly on Hawaiian Airlines next month.
Hundreds of flight attendants picketed last summer to make their point at both HNL and at LAX, arguably Hawaiian’s two most important airports. The workers are being represented by the Association of Flight Attendants, which says that their pay has declined in relation to the rest of the industry. The union represents a total of 50,000 flight attendants at 20 airlines. In addition to pay, issues include layover rest, minimum hours worked and sick leave.
How much do Hawaii flight attendants earn?
Hawaiian flight attendants start at $25 an hour, while those with 20+ years make up to $55 per hour, according to the union. By comparison, Southwest flight attendants are said to make up to $71 an hour. “Some of these flight attendants are well into their 60s and 70s but can’t afford to retire. And management is trying to erode protections and work rules that were gained in previous negotiations.” — Andrew Feldman, AFA.
History of the dispute.
Hawaiian Airlines indicated that it has achieved tentative agreement on many of the issues since negotiations began in 2017. The company said that its “flight attendants deliver the best hospitality in the industry, and that the company is focused on finalizing a new contract that “recognizes our employees’ contributions to our success, reflects our industry standing, and allows Hawaiian to remain competitive and continue to grow.
Flight attendants say “We transformed this job into a career over decades of bargaining; we are not going backwards.” That according to Sharon Soper, AFA Hawaii President. “We will not agree to concessions while Hawaiian Airlines makes record profits.” The union also said that one of the highest costs of living for any U.S. state, Hawaiian flight attendant pay has fallen in comparison with the rest of the industry.
Beat of Hawaii’s take.
We continue to feel strongly that there will be no strike, or at least not one of any substance or duration. The reason is that this is a very challenging time in Hawaii travel, with the rapid ramping up of competition from Southwest Hawaii flights. It would be the most inopportune time for Hawaiian Airlines to have any interruption in service, especially over the next twelve months. For that reason, it is probably the best time for the flight attendants to be pushing for an immediate resolution.
Photo depiction of Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner.