Hawaiian flight attendants vote to authorize a strike – Daily News

[ad_1]
Source Link

A week before Thanksgiving travel hits area airports, thousands of Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants have voted to authorize a strike as they lobby for fair pay and benefits.

The workers, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, allege their pay has fallen in comparison with the rest of the industry while cost-of-living and medical expenses continue to rise. They’re also seeking better retirement security and an assurance of continued protections on the job.

The association includes more than 2,100 members. With 95.1% of the membership participating, 99.9% voted to authorize a strike Wednesday, Nov. 20 — an action the union said would occur with no advance notice to management or passengers.

“Hawaiian flight attendants are sending an emphatic message to management: Delay is not acceptable; we demand the contract we deserve because we earn it every day,” Sharon Soper, a president with AFA’s Master Executive Council, said in a statement. “We are safety professionals, and management must acknowledge our worth.”

Labor negotiations began in January 2017 and are overseen by the National Mediation Board. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the board could declare negotiations deadlocked and release both parties into a 30-day “cooling off” period leading to a strike deadline.

Hawaiian’s response

Hawaiian said a strike would be illegal until the cooling-off period expires.

“Having said that, we understand what this vote symbolizes, and we share the sentiment of frustration with the slow pace of these negotiations that it conveys,” the airline said in a statement released Wednesday. “We have been working with a federal mediator for a year now and we remain committed to reaching an agreement through good faith negotiations under the mediator’s guidance.”

The AFA has a trademarked strike strategy known as CHAOS or Create Havoc Around Our System. With CHAOS, a strike could affect anything from a single flight to the airline’s entire system.

The employees have picketed at Honolulu and LAX airports over the last six months. Hawaiian pilots negotiated a new contract in 2017, but the flight attendants have yet to forge a new labor agreement.

Minimal pay hikes, healthcare concessions

Speaking last month, Soper said Hawaiian’s management has proposed minimal pay increases while also demanding concessions in healthcare premiums.

“They offered us a pay raise but said ‘Now we also want you to pay more for your medical insurance,’ ” she said. “That would put some of them underwater with no pay raise at all.”

First-year Hawaiian flight attendants earn $24.50 an hour, Soper said, while others who have served the company for 20 years top out at $55.52 an hour. Those wages fall below that of other airlines.

“Flight attendants with United make $67 at the top of the scale, and at Southwest, it’s $71 an hour,” she said.

Hawaiian Airlines offers connections to a variety of California cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose, as well as flights to Las Vegas, New York, Portland, Phoenix and beyond.

[ad_2]