February 23, 2005
Hawaiian MEC Approves Tentative Agreement
After a year and a half of bargaining, including challenging company lawyers on the Courthouse steps, the Hawaiian MEC approved a tentative contract with management on Feb. 22, 2005. Informational road shows for pilots are scheduled to begin the week of Feb. 28 and the membership ratification vote will likely take place the week of March 7.
"This deal is the result of a united pilot leadership and a commitment of ALPA resources," said Hawaiian MEC Chairman Kirk McBride. "We have hammered out a deal with several significant gains. Now it is in our pilots' hands."
Most importantly, pilot negotiators bargained an agreement that preserves the pilots' defined benefit plan through the year 2012 and gives the parties a chance to look at the issue of future retirement security and benefits more carefully. It also allows Hawaiian pilots who are 50 years old and older to remain in the pension plan beyond the 2012 mark to finish their careers. There were also modest improvements in hourly pay, and compensation for deadhead, landing credits, deadheading and training pay along with increased per diem reimbursement.
Disability benefits will now be paid out of a newly created voluntary employee beneficiary association (VEBA) instead of the retirement plan. At the same time, there were changes in work rules and operational provisions that are a "win-win" for both parties and will allow the Company to emerge from bankruptcy protection. The hearing to do just that should soon be scheduled.
The agreement was negotiated against the backdrop of the Section 1113 Bankruptcy process, which the company was trying to use to impose deep cuts in pilot pay, retirement and disability benefits despite the airline's record profits. The TA was finished on the day after the Court hearing was scheduled to begin, but was postponed to let the parties continue to negotiate.
"This contract is one that we can be proud of," said Negotiating Chairman Jim Giddings. "It accomplishes our most important priorities, builds in improvements we've tried to get for a long time and let's the Company emerge from bankruptcy. Maybe most important, HAL pilots will be back at the bargaining table soon looking for further improvements."
If approved by the membership, the agreement would have an amendable date of July 2007 with a return to the bargaining table in late 2006.