Hawaiian Airlines pilots, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), today formally opened their Strike Operations Center in Honolulu, exactly one year after their collective bargaining agreement with the airline became amendable.
The Strike Operations Center, located near Honolulu International Airport, will serve as the local headquarters for strike operations, should the National Mediation Board (NMB), the federal government agency now supervising negotiations, decide that mediation is at an impasse and free pilots to strike after a 30-day cooling off period.
“Today marks exactly one year past when we thought we would have a contract ratified by Hawaiian pilots. When negotiations convened over 18 months ago, management indicated that they were serious about reaching an agreement with Hawaiian pilots by September 14, 2015,” said Capt. Hoon Lee, chairman of the Hawaiian branch of ALPA. “While our first priority remains obtaining a market-rate agreement for our nearly 650 pilots, we must be prepared for all eventualities.”
ALPA opened talks with Hawaiian on a new contract in March 2015, with the goal of reaching an agreement by mid-September last year. Under federal law, pilot contracts do not expire; they become amendable but remain in place until they are replaced by a new agreement or the NMB releases the parties to self-help. ALPA has asked the Board to end mediation and allow the start of the 30-day cooling-off period, after which time the union could strike or the company could impose a lockout. The last scheduled mediation session will take place September 27–30.
The Strike Operations Center will be the union’s headquarters in the event of a strike. Pilot volunteers will track the pre-strike movement of Hawaiian aircraft, organize picket lines, run a telephone call center to keep pilots and families informed, and coordinate travel home for crews that are out of the islands if and when aircraft operations cease.
Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing over 54,000 pilots at 31 U.S. and Canadian airlines.