MIAMI — Pilot leaders at Hawaiian Airlines will ask members to give them authority to strike if current negotiations break down and the federal government authorizes a walkout, the Air Line Pilot Association (ALPA) said in a statement.
According to ALPA, Hawaiian Airlines members are “fed up with management foot-dragging on a new contract while their airline is making record profits.” Last year, the carrier reported a net profit of $182.6 million.
On April 14, ALPA’s Hawaiian Airlines Master Executive Council (MEC) voted unanimously to conduct a strike authorization ballot. The Hawaiian pilot group also asked the union’s national leadership to authorize a $2 million grant from ALPA’s Major Contingency Fund to help pay for prestrike preparation and other logistical support.
“When we opened negotiations on a new contract a year ago, we thought negotiations would be simple because the airline was performing so well,” said Hawaiian MEC chairman Hoon Lee. “But our patience is at an end because HAL management seems determined to force the pilots at Hawaiian to continue to work under a substandard contract for as long as possible.”
According to ALPA, voting on the strike ballot is scheduled to begin on April 25 and conclude on May 17. If the ballot passes, it would authorize the Hawaiian MEC to declare a strike once the pilot group is given permission to do so by the National Mediation Board (NMB).
“We are frustrated and dismayed that management steadfastly refuses to share in its financial success when Hawaiian is recording the best revenues, stock price, and market capitalization in its history,” Lee said. “We certainly want a contract, not a strike, but we will not stand by and watch while we fall further behind our peers at other airlines. This strike authorization vote will give us the means to take all legal actions to attain the goal of a fair, market-rate contract if management forces us down that road.”
Before a strike could take place, the NMB would have to release the two sides from mediation, and then offer binding arbitration. If either party rejects arbitration, a 30-day cooling-off period would commence, after which both parties could exercise self-help—a strike by the union or a lockout by the company.
ALPA and Hawaiian are working with the federal mediator in Virginia this week, with another mediation session set for the week of May 10.