Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants hold first major union protest in decades

Allison Schaefers reports:

At least a couple of hundred Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants on Wednesday held their first major Hawaii labor demonstration in nearly 20 years to protest protracted negotiations over a new contract.

The contract between Hawaiian Airlines management and the flight attendants, who belong to the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) union, became amendable on Dec. 31, 2016. The last bargaining session was last week in Portland and the parties are expected to go back to the table the last week of July.

Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said today, “The AFA-CWA represents some 2,100 Hawaiian flight attendants who provide the best hospitality in the industry. HA and the AFA have reached tentative agreements on many issues since negotiations began in 2017. We are now in mediation, to help us navigate remaining issues and we are working very hard to finalize a deal.”

But Jeff Fuke, a Hawaiian flight attendant for 11 years and a member of Hawaiian’s negotiating committee, said union members still are fighting for fair wages, better retirement plans and maintaining protections on the job.

“We’ve been in mediation since the fourth quarter of last year. Every time we have bargained, AFA has presented proposals. Hawaiian hasn’t gotten back to us,” said Fuke, who joined today’s protest. “We are out here to bring the message to the public to let them know about our struggle. The flight attendants are interested in this concluding quickly.”

Flight attendants marched on the sidewalk in front of several Terminal 1 locations at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. They carried signs such as, “Delay, Delay, Not Ok, ” and “Hawaii starts here,” and chanted union rallying cries like “1,2,3, 4, We won’t take it anymore,” “Contract now,” and “We make profits every day. Now it’s time to raise our pay.”