HONOLULU — Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants voted to strike on Wednesday, making history with 99.9 percent of votes authorizing the strike and 95.1 percent of flight attendants participating.
And while Hawaiian Airlines acknowledged the vote, the company said in a Wednesday statement the action is still technically illegal and they’re “determined” to find a resolution for their staff members.
“There is no doubt that our flight attendants deliver the best hospitality in the industry, and we are determined to reach an agreement that recognizes their contributions to our success with increases in compensation while ensuring that our company can remain competitive and continue to grow,” Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement sent to TGI.
The company pointed out they’ve been working with a federal mediator for a year and “remain committed to reaching an agreement through good-faith negotiations under the mediator’s guidance.”
The statement continued: “A strike is illegal until the National Mediation Board releases both parties from mediation and a cooling-off period expires, neither of which has occurred. 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.”
Flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWS, have been picketing at Honolulu and LAX airports for the past six months. Voting to strike ratchets up the contract fight to a new level, according to Hawaiian Airlines Master Executive Council President Sharon Soper.
“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. We are safety professionals, and management must acknowledge our worth. Hawaiian is profitable and the time has come for flight attendants to share in what we have helped create,” Soper said in a Wednesday release.
Soper continued on to say Hawaiian flight attendants are paid less than their counterparts in the industry, yet they are based in the most expensive cities in the United States and are renowned for their safety record and level of service.
Negotiations began in January 2017 and are overseen by the National Mediation Board.
Lack of progress could lead to the NMB declaring that negotiations are deadlocked and releasing both parties into a 30-day “cooling-off” period leading to a strike deadline. AFA has a trademarked strike strategy known as CHAOS or Create Havoc Around Our System. With CHAOS, a strike could affect the entire system or a single flight. The union decides when, where and how to strike without notice to management or passengers.
Jessica Else, environment reporter, can be reached at 245-0452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.