LIHU‘E — On the first day of the Hawaiian Airlines Board of Directors quarterly meeting, a handful of flight attendants held a peaceful demonstration at Lihue Airport.
They want a fair contract and believe it’s time to stand for all flight attendants from Lihue to Los Angeles.
It was an important day to hold a demonstration because it was the first day that the airline’s board of directors would be meeting to negotiate a contract with the flight attendants.
Tuesday, three flight attendants were wearing red shirts while handing out information to the public about their bid for that contract. A few more joined the event later that day.
According to Jaci-Ann Chung, president of the Flight Attendants Association’s local chapter, Hawaiian Airlines has been making record profits, yet they are proposing that the flight attendants make concessions to account for their own pay raise. Their most recent proposal would have them getting paid less while paying more for their health benefits, letting go of staff, and taking away from employee retirement plans.
Fight Attendants Association spokesperson Jeff Fuke says Hawaiian’s attendants are already paid on average 20% less than their counterparts at other airlines.
Chung said contract negotiations usually take 18-24 months. Hawaiian Airlines is at their 36-month mark of negotiations.
“Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants are protesting today throughout Hawai‘i and Los Angeles to bring public awareness to our protracted negotiations with Hawaiian’s management,” Fuke said. “But management is still demanding concessions from the flight attendants despite Hawaiian’s record profits in recent years.”
According to Fuke, Hawaiian flight attendants provide industry-leading hospitality and deserve to be recognized for their contributions to the company’s success.
“If passengers don’t have a good onboard experience, they won’t come back, our flight attendants provide that authentic Hawaiian experience, it’s as simple as that,” Fuke said.
Malia Kerr has been a fight attendant for almost seven years.
“Our flight attendants that worked before me, they so deserve a fair contract. I feel like it’s my duty as a junior flight attendant to help support them. And get the contract that we deserve,” said Kerr.
Her co-worker Chasity Theno has been a flight attendant for eight years but recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary with the company.
“It’s time we give the public information on what we are doing. We want a contract now; it’s been almost four years since we started this journey,” she said. “Overall, we have a really strong community of flight attendants. We just want the public’s support.”
Kerr said if the flight attendants do not receive a fair contract after these negotiations, the flight attendants will go on with an official strike.
Hawaiian Airlines representatives said Tuesday they remain engaged in negotiations with a federal mediator and offered a proposal last week that included “substantial pay raises across the board.”
“Flight attendants at the top of the scale, with 20 years of experience or more, would see their pay increase 20-28% over the course of the five-year contract,” said Hawaiian Airlines spokes person Alex DaSilva. “Their pay would be in the same range as the largest U.S. airlines, which are many times our size.”
This story has been edited to reflect accuracy.