September 16, 2008
Hawaiian Pilots File for Mediation, Reactivate Strategic Preparedness Committee
HONOLULU – With negotiations on a new contract stalled after well over 18 months of bargaining, Hawaiian Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Intl., have filed to seek mediation with the National Mediation Board (NMB). At the same time, the pilot group announced it would reactivate its Strategic Preparedness Committee and seek support from ALPA’s National Strategic Preparedness and Strike Committee.
“It has become clear Hawaiian is in no hurry to reach a fair and reasonable agreement. Instead, management is refusing to grant reasonable raises as a hedge against future economic uncertainty,” said Captain Eric Sampson, Chairman of ALPA’s Hawaiian Airlines Master Executive Council. “After coming very close to an agreement during private mediation in June, progress at the table has reached a standstill since then. It is time for us to move to mediation with the NMB in hopes of reaching the fair agreement that our pilots have earned and deserve.”
Over the past year Hawaiian pilots have repeatedly assisted management by allowing non-ALPA pilots to ferry HAL widebody jets undergoing heavy maintenance, agreeing to be paid under existing rates when the airline acquires newer, longer-range aircraft, as well as sacrificing time off to fly extra hours when two of HAL’s prime competitors, Aloha and ATA Airlines, unexpectedly shut down in April.
“The company is now reporting significant profits and has achieved excellent operating results,” Sampson said. “We recognize it’s a tough environment for airlines, but our proposals at the bargaining table have reflected that. Our request is modest and the company can certainly afford it, but Hawaiian apparently prefers to expand on the backs of its labor force. We cannot continue like this.”
ALPA President Capt. John Prater filed the request for mediation from the National Mediation Board on September 16, 2008, the day ALPA and the airline had agreed they could seek federal mediation if previous bargaining talks had failed. The Board will appoint a mediator who will contact the parties and establish a mediation schedule.
Under the Railway Labor Act, airlines’ labor contracts do not expire, they become amendable. The Hawaiian pilots’ contract became amendable on June 30, 2007. If the National Mediation Board accepts the pilots’ request for mediation, talks will continue either until the pilots reach a contract, or until the NMB releases the pilots into a 30-day cooling off period, the expiration of which could be followed by a lawful pilot strike.
The Hawaiian MEC named Craig Kahauolopua to chair the SPC Committee, which is responsible for organizing activities before and during a strike. Capt. Kahauolopua is a Boeing 767 captain who also chairs the pilot group’s Security Committee.
“We certainly hope we are able to reach an amicable agreement with Hawaiian management,” added Sampson, “but in case an agreement is not reached, we will be ready to pursue our other legal options.”
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing 53,000 pilots at 37 airlines in the United States and Canada, including more than 400 pilots who fly for Hawaiian Airlines. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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ALPA Contacts: Eric Sampson, (808) 836-2572
Rusty Ayers, (847) 323-9519