Threat Of Strike Looms Over Hawaiian Airlines

Flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines have voted in favor of strike action as a remedy for unsatisfactory pay grades. Voting concluded on Wednesday 20th November 2019 and results were collected with an almost unanimous decision.

Threat Of Strike Looms Over Hawaiian Airlines
Yesterday flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines voted for strike action. Photo: kaoru hayashi via Flickr

A strike for better pay and protections

Whilst Hawaiian Airlines celebrates 90 years in service, the news coming from the airline recently has not all be that rosy. On 28th October 2019, the airline opened a poll allowing 2,000 flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines to vote for strike action. The vote lasted until yesterday when votes were finalized and counted. With 99.9% of votes in favor, the staff’s message was unified. They’ve called a strike to improve their working conditions.

Threat Of Strike Looms Over Hawaiian Airlines
Flight attendants at Hawaiian Airlines are unhappy with pay and benefits. Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

But which elements are they looking to change? Well first and foremost, it’s pay. According to a Hawaiian flight attendant who spoke to Pacific Business News (PBN), flight attendants at Hawaiian are paid around 22.5% less than staff at other companies. Top payscale attendants with Hawaiian earn $55 an hour.

But as well as striking for better pay, staff want something else too. They are asking for better protection in their contracts which would offer them more homelife security. They want retirement benefits and clauses that will see them receiving better-structured working hours.

Praise for strike action

Interestingly, whilst a strike would be very disruptive to Hawaiian Airlines, officials at another Hawaiian airline have praised the outcome.

The President of AFA Hawaiian Airlines, Sharon Soper, told PBN:

“The flight attendants have really rallied — it’s amazing…We were hoping that it would be a good vote, but we are sort of blown away that it’s a fantastic vote.”

The vote was also touted as a clear signal that flight attendants are losing patience with management.

The annoyance of Hawaiian staff speaks for itself. Since before the vote opened, there have been demonstrations in Daniel K. Inouye International Airport and Los Angeles International. It’s clear that the staff has been waiting for this for a while. So, what are the next steps?

Threat Of Strike Looms Over Hawaiian Airlines
Strike action has been called but when will it happen? Photo: Hawaiian Airlines

Strike or salaries?

The vote will now go to the National Mediation Board who will determine consent for the strike to go ahead. There then needs to be a 30-day cooling-off period before the strike can come into effect. That buys Hawaiian Airlines’ management some time.

Some flight attendants are hoping for minimal disruption and see the outcome of the vote as a form of strike action already. The vote makes the staff’s discontentment clear and it’s up to management to decide what to do with this information in its arsenal.

There’s no reason why Hawaiian Airlines can’t solve this without a strike. We’ve seen complaints like this get resolved before. German airline, Lufthansa, was able to avoid costly disruption to its schedule when it answered employees’ demands ahead of planned strikes in October.

Management at Lufthansa granted salary increases to avoid further unrest between staff and the smooth-running of operations. Perhaps Hawaiian Airlines will also take this opportunity before disruption hits around a major holiday season.

A Hawaiian Airlines statement emailed to PBN said:

“There is no doubt that our flight attendants deliver the best hospitality in the industry, and we are determined to reach an agreement that recognizes their contributions…”

Perhaps the tension in this airline is already thawing and a resolution on the horizon. We contacted Hawaiian Airlines for its take on the situation but it was unavailable to comment.

Do you think management at Hawaiian Airlines will listen to staff demands? Let us know in the comments.