MIAMI — Unionized ground workers for United Airlines in Hawaii may soon find themselves out of work as the carrier has begun talks to outsource jobs at the Lihue, Kona, and Kahului airports, according to reports from the islands.
Over the weekend, The International Association of Machinists stated that United has already started taking bids from contractors at the Hawaiian airports, as well as a few airfields on the mainland.
“Each station was reviewed concerning current operations costs and potential costs of vendor bids,” wrote Local 141’s Rich Delaney. “The cost of vendor bids was an initial and unofficial figure that will change as any future negotiations with the vendor are held.”
United spokeswoman Christen David told the Star Advertiser the airline hasn’t made any decisions. She says the airline is in discussions with the union, but is looking for ways to cut costs and become more efficient.
The union itself is in the tricky position of trying to save as many jobs as possible without undercutting the wages, benefits and working conditions of members in other cities, and the last time it negotiated, workers were making more than workers at other airlines.
More details are expected in May, and a final decision will take place no earlier than mid-summer. Officials also say that the IAM contract requires United to give the union the opportunity to negotiate contract changes before it can outsource.
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz released the following statement on Tuesday, stating “I am asking United Airlines to cease its efforts to proceed with the outsourcing process,” He continued,“These are 220 jobs, essential to working families in Hawaii and central to our visitor industry and local economy. We all trusted United to follow through on their commitment and that’s what’s so terrible about this. United Airlines needs to keep its promise.”
Earlier this year, United Airlines told its customer service agents and ramp agents in Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver that the airline will outsource 240 jobs.
The carrier has been attempting to cut $2 billion from its budget by 2017 as it faces continued rising expenses. It reported a $489 million loss, excluding special items, in the first quarter of 2014.