More than 300 uniformed Hawaiian Airlines pilots, carrying signs that read “Fully Qualifed, Partially Paid!” and “Mr. Dunkerley, What does Ohana mean to you?, picketed in shifts at Honolulu Airport’s interisland terminal today to bring public awareness to the slow pace of labor negotiations with the company.
The pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, said they are seeking a 45 percent increase in their overall contract value to bring them in line with market rates that pilots at other major carriers receive for flying similar aircraft. But the pilots claim that Hawaiian, despite record profits and a soaring stock price, is seeking additional concessions that the airline could not receive in its 2003-2005 bankruptcy reorganization.
“It’s not just wages we’re seeking in this contract,” said Hoon Lee, chairman of Hawaiian Airlines’ ALPA unit. “It’s the benefits and the quality of life. Some of the concessions impact the minimum number of days we want possibly being reduced by 25 percent, and/or medical changes for both active employees and retirees.”
The pilots, walking in tight orderly circles on sidewalks outside the baggage area on the bottom level of the interisland terminal and outside the ticket counter on the second level, didn’t disrupt Hawaiian’s operations, according to company spokeswoman Ann Botticelli.
ALPA said it was permitted by the state to have 20 pilots walk at any one time on the bottom level and 30 to walk on the upper level. ALPA said 328, or about 95 percent of its available pilots, participated in the informational picketing, which took place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hawaiian has about 630 pilots overall.
Hawaiian President and CEO Mark Dunkerley said in a memo to employees today that the company is likewise frustrated by the pace of negotiations and is thankful that a federal mediator is helping to close the gaps. ALPA and the company began talks on April 1 on the pilots’ five-year contract that became amendable on Sept. 14. They have been under federal mediation since January and have additional mediation scheduled March 29 through April 1 in Washington, D.C.
“We all know that Hawaiian Airlines’ success has been driven by the hard work of every single employee in the company – pilots very much included – and we are committed to providing compensation packages for all of our work groups that are in line with our competitive position in the industry,” Dunkerley said in the memo. “That includes not only wages, but also medical, vacation and retirement benefits and work rules. Recently, our clerical and mechanical colleagues overwhelmingly ratified a contract that achieved our competitive compensation goal, and we seek no less than that for our pilots.”