August 11, 2009
Hawaiian Airlines Pilots Open Strategic Preparedness Center, Prepare Strike Authorization Vote
HONOLULU – Hawaiian Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Intl. (ALPA) opened a new Strategic Preparedness Center at Honolulu International Airport Tuesday, setting the stage for a strike authorization vote if the latest round of federal mediation doesn’t bear fruit next week.
The ALPA office suite at the airport’s South Ramp would be used to coordinate phone banks, picketing and other operations should the National Mediation Board (NMB) release the pilot group from mediation and declare an impasse. The next mediation session between the Hawaiian pilots and HAL management will begin Aug. 18 at the NMB headquarters in Washington, DC.
“If that mediation session is not productive, we may have no option but to ask the National Mediation Board to declare an impasse and release the Hawaiian pilot group from mediation,” said First Officer Sam Taeu, Secretary-Treasurer of ALPA’s Hawaiian pilot group. “As a first step in that process, the union leadership is prepared to send a ballot to our pilots asking them to give us the authorization to go on strike once the government allows us to do so.”
The Hawaiian pilots have been in negotiations for almost 2½ years and have not had a pay raise since 2007. They are seeking reasonable cost-of-living increases and a small increase in the company contribution to the pilots’ retirement fund.
“One thing we want to emphasize to our customers is that the Hawaiian pilots are not on strike. A strike is the last thing we want to do – it would hurt everybody. But this contract situation is like a toothache – it’s starting to hurt, and it’s only going to get worse if we ignore the problem and don’t take action,” Taeu said.
The Strategic Preparedness Center has state-of-the-art software to track all pilots’ schedules, as well as all Hawaiian aircraft in flight so that the union can locate and assist any Hawaiian pilot any day, any time, a strike is called. If a consensual agreement is reached, the center will be used to rally pilots to support the agreement and ratify the new contract.
“This is a huge endeavor that we all take very seriously, as our careers, our families and our futures are at stake,” said HAL Strategic Preparedness Chairman Capt. Craig Kahauolopua. “Our national union has given us two million dollars to help us prepare for the unknown. Our SPC Center is now open. We are ready.”
Alaska Airlines, Mesa/go! and Island Air are among the airlines that have ratified new contracts and given raises to their pilots in the past eight months. Pilots at Pinnacle Airlines reached a tentative agreement with their management last week after almost five years of negotiations.
ALPA represents nearly 53,500 pilots at 36 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at http://www.alpa.org.
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