Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hawaiian Airlines pilots have voted in favor of authorizing a strike

Hawaiian Airlines logoThe Hawaiian Airlines pilots' union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), recently carried out a strike authorization vote. Yesterday the union announced that the membership voted "to authorize their elected union representatives to conduct a lawful withdrawal of service if contract talks do not result in a new collective bargaining agreement." According to ALPA, 98 percent of the pilots responding voted to support the strike ballot.

“This vote should be a wake-up call to Hawaiian Airlines management,” said Captain Eric Sampson, chairman of the ALPA unit at Hawaiian Airlines. “There has never been a strike in the 80-year history of our airline, and we don’t want one now. But if that’s what it takes to win a fair and reasonable contract, our pilots have told us loud and clear that they’re ready to take that final step.”

The union points out that the strike vote does not mean that a strike is imminent. It merely authorizes the pilot leadership to begin a strike if and when they deem it necessary once the National Mediation Board (NMB) declares an impasse and releases the parties to self-help. Negotiators for ALPA and Hawaiian Airlines are scheduled to meet with a federal mediator on October 12, 2009. The two sides also met this past week in Honolulu without the mediator present and could do so again prior to the October NMB session.

“The 98 percent approval rating is outstanding and one of the largest margins of support ALPA has ever seen. We deeply appreciate every Hawaiian pilot who stood up and made a statement when it counted, and we hope the next vote we take is one to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement,” Sampson said.

At present, the pilots are working under terms of a concessionary agreement ratified in 2005 while the airline was in bankruptcy. The contract became amendable on June 30, 2007 and it has been more than two years since collective bargaining began for a new contract.