HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaiian Airlines Flight Attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), voted 99.9 percent to authorize a strike, with 95.1 percent participating. It’s the first time in history the flight attendants have voted to strike in the company’s history.
But according to Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airlines COO, the vote will not impact flights.
“Our traveling public don’t need to worry about (the strike). They can plan around the holidays just as they would do normally,” Snook said.
He wanted to assure the public that the vote by their flight attendants — which authorizes their union to call for a strike– will have no impact to flight schedules because legally the flight attendants can’t strike.
“There is no ability to strike at this time. The railway labor act protects the traveling public from strikes under these circumstances. We have to be released by the mediation board before a strike could happen. We see no sign of that happening because there’s good faith negotiations going on at the table right now,” Snook explained.
Those negotiations have been dragging on for three years. The flight attendants have been picketing for several months–on their own time. And they said the strike vote–the first of its kind in the history of the airlines–at the point was more symbolic
“This is to send a really strong unified message to management that the flight attendants are all lined up behind the unions negotiating committee,” said Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant Jeff Fuke.
Fuke said they want negotiations to wrap up. They want a fair contract and it all boils down to money.
“We look at ourselves as sort of a first responder in the sky when your plane is 40 thousand feet in the air and something goes wrong, who do you turn to? It’s the flight attendant,” Fuke said.
“Our flight attendants deserve a pay raise and we’re going to be working very hard to make that happen here in the weeks ahead,” Snook said.
KHON: “It does sound like you are willing to give them that pay raise.”
“Absolutely. In fact, the last proposal we gave them back in October offered a pay raise and a total compensation increase.”
Fuke said the goal is to get a pay increase that allows them to financially support themselves.
Negotiations are ongoing. If that fails, they will go to mediation, then possibly arbitration. The only time a strike could happen is if the national mediation board gives the flight attendants permission to strike. Both sides said they are far from that point.