At least a couple of hundred Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants on Wednesday held their first major Hawaii labor demonstration in nearly 20 years to protest protracted negotiations over a new contract.
The contract between Hawaiian Airlines management and the flight attendants, who belong to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) union, became amendable on Dec. 31, 2016. The last bargaining session was last week in Portland and the parties are expected to go back to the table the last week of July.
Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said today, “The AFA-CWA represents some 2,100 Hawaiian flight attendants who provide the best hospitality in the industry. HA and the AFA have reached tentative agreements on many issues since negotiations began in 2017. We are now in mediation, to help us navigate remaining issues and we are working very hard to finalize a deal.”
But Jeff Fuke, a Hawaiian flight attendant for 11 years and a member of Hawaiian’s negotiating committee, said union members still are fighting for fair wages, better retirement plans and maintaining protections on the job.
“We’ve been in mediation since the fourth quarter of last year. Every time we have bargained, AFA has presented proposals. Hawaiian hasn’t gotten back to us,” said Fuke, who joined today’s protest. “We are out here to bring the message to the public to let them know about our struggle. The flight attendants are interested in this concluding quickly.”
Flight attendants marched on the sidewalk in front of several Terminal 1 locations at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. They carried signs such as, “Delay, Delay, Not Ok, ” and “Hawaii starts here,” and chanted union rallying cries like “1,2,3, 4, We won’t take it anymore,” “Contract now,” and “We make profits every day. Now it’s time to raise our pay.”
On average, Hawaiian’s top-scale pay rate for attendants is about $20 below what other carriers are offering, Fuke said. The last raise for Hawaiian flight attendants was in March 2016, which brought starting pay to $22 an hour, he said. Top-scale workers, who have 20 years on the job, make $55 an hour, Fuke said.
Summer Manuma, a Hawaiian flight attendant for 12 years, said current pay rates aren’t enough to produce a comfortable living in Hawaii since flight attendants only get paid when the aircraft is moving and are only guaranteed that they’ll be paid for 75 hours a month. At top scale, that means Hawaiian flight attendants are only guaranteed $49,500. Fuke said there are also concerns that Hawaiian’s retirement plans do not provide enough continuity of medical benefits.
While Hawaii ranks among the highest cost of living for any U.S. state, Hawaiian flight attendants say their pay has fallen in comparison with the rest of the industry while their living and medical costs continue to rise. After making employee concessions and helping the company get through a history of bankruptcies, flight attendants say they now want their fair share of Hawaiian’s recent record profits.
Manama said she remembers the struggles that her mother, who was a Hawaiian flight attendant for 33 years, went through.
“Now that Hawaiian is profitable, it’s time to give back,” she said. “Based on our hours, we are very low income.”
Manuma said she and other flight attendants are hopeful that bargaining issues will soon be resolved, especially since Hawaii is in the midst of its busy summer travel season.
“We love serving the people of Hawaii. We are the hometown airline. Our workplace is their travel space,” she said.
The Association of Flight Attendants labor union represents 50,000 flight attendants who work at Hawaiian Airlines and 19 other carriers.
ON THE MOVE
Accuity LLP has announced the following:
>> Maya Hananoki has been promoted to audit manager for Accuity LLP. She joined the firm in 2014. Hananoki’s master of accounting degree from The Shilder College of Business at UH as well as a B.A. in psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa has provided a unique perspective in her new position as audit manager.
>> Nicholas Miyamoto has been promoted to Accuity LLP’s audit manager. Six years ago, he joined the firm and has climbed up through the ranks. As a Certified Public Accountant, Miyamoto works directly with some of the top business leaders in Hawaii.