The union representing Hawaiian Airlines pilots has petitioned the federal government to release them from mediation and offer arbitration instead, a process that could start the clock for a potential pilot strike 30 days later.
In a letter submitted to the National Mediation Board (NMB) on Wednesday, the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) said it believes further mediation would be futile and requested that the NMB make a proffer of arbitration. If either the union or the company declines, the two sides would enter a 30-day cooling-off period, after which time the parties would be free to enter self-help—such as a strike by the pilots or a lockout by the company.
ALPA’s letter to the NMB explains that management has failed to bargain realistically, continues to seek bankruptcy-like concessions, has offered below-average industry pay, and can be expected to continue to resist concluding an agreement without decisive action by the Board.
“There is no objective or ascertainable financial or operational reason for the many concessions that Hawaiian Airlines still seeks other than to prolong bargaining and mediation and avoid reaching a comprehensive contract solution,” said ALPA president Capt. Tim Canoll.
In a strike-authorization vote taken in May, 99 percent of participating Hawaiian pilots gave their leadership the go-ahead to declare a strike if the NMB releases ALPA to self-help. Hawaiian’s contract with ALPA became amendable on Sept. 14, 2015. The two sides have been in negotiations for more than a year and in federal mediation since January 2016.
“Instead of working hard to reach a market-rate agreement and avoid a strike, the Company continues to suspend profit sharing during periods of record profits at Hawaiian, and refuses to recognize that pilot pay is increasing rapidly under other contracts,” said Capt. Hoon Lee, chairman of ALPA’s Hawaiian Master Executive Council. “It’s clear to us that the only thing that will budge the Company is the real threat of a strike, and we are fully prepared to take that action if it becomes absolutely necessary.”
There are currently no further mediation sessions scheduled after the week of June 27.