Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants picket ahead of strike vote
By Bruce Asato |
October 9, 2019
| Updated on October 9, 2019 at 6:09 pm
Video by Allison Schaefers and Bruce Asato
Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants picketed Wednesday at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in advance of a strike vote.
Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants held another major labor demonstration on Wednesday at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in advance of taking their first strike vote in the history of the 90-year-old company.
Babz Vidinha, a 36-year airline employee, marches with her co-workers and supporters on Wednesday after returning from a flight from Sydney, Australia.
The contract between Hawaiian Airlines management and the flight attendants, who belong to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union, became amendable on Dec. 31, 2016. The company and its flight attendants union have been in mediation since the fourth quarter of last year. So far, four protests including the one today have been held in Honolulu and a fifth protest was held in Los Angeles International Airport.
While the atmosphere is contentious, it’s hard to predict if Hawaiian flight attendants actually will go on strike, even if a majority approve the vote, which is slated to begin Oct. 28 and run through Nov. 20. Some 2,100 flight attendants are eligible to vote.
“We’ve never had to take a strike vote before. It’s a serious step and we want to send a serious message to management,” said Sharon Soper (not pictured), a flight attendant who has worked at Hawaiian Airlines for 54 years.
Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said progress has been made and the airline is focused on working with AFA negotiators through federal mediation to finalize a new contract. The latest union announcement will not affect flight operations or guests’ travel plans since self-help actions are illegal as long as good faith negotiations are ongoing, Da Silva said.
“Hawaiian and AFA have reached tentative agreements on many issues since negotiations began and we are working hard to finalize a deal on remaining issues through ongoing mediation,” Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said. “We remain entirely focused on mediating the final items of a contract that recognizes our flight attendants’ contribution to our success in a way that is equitable with other bargaining units and reflective of our competitive standing in the industry. “
But the union said there are still sticking points pertaining mostly to wages and benefits. Another union concern has been that Hawaiian’s retirement plans do not provide enough continuity of medical benefits.