Hawaiian Airlines’ unionized pilots voted to authorize a strike if they are unable to agree with management on a new contract.
The Air Line Pilots Association said today in a news release, “almost 98 percent of the pilot group voted, and of those voting, 99 percent voted to support the strike.”
Unions can take a strike authorization vote as a way to put pressure on management during contract negotiations. The vote does not mean a strike is likely to happen.
Hoon Lee, chairman of the ALPA unit at Hawaiian Airlines, said, “We absolutely do not want to go on strike, but if that’s what it takes to get a market-rate contract, our pilots have told us loud and clear that they will stand together and take that final step.”
Hawaiian Airlines said in a news release, “ALPA is asking for a 52 percent increase in total compensation in the first year of its contract. The value of that increase is $74 million – for a workforce of roughly 600.”
“Our pilots are very well compensated,” the airline said. “For example, a top-of-scale Hawaiian Airlines wide body Captain, who has 12 years of seniority in the company, earns an average $242,000 annually for flying 700 hours a year.” Pilots also get medical coverage for life for retirees and their spouses and contributions of between 15 and 19.4 percent annually to their 401 (k) plan, the airline said.
Lee said the 700 hours is only a fraction of the time pilots spend away from home while working for Hawaiian. Lee also said a beginning pilot at Hawaiian makes $36 an hour.
Hawaiian pilots are making “45 percent less than our peers and the gap is growing,” Lee said.
“We want a market-rate contract,” he said. “We just want to be respected and we want a fair contract.”