United flight attendants picket in Hawaii and globally - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

United flight attendants picket in Hawaii and globally

United Airlines workers in Los Angeles. United Airlines workers in Los Angeles.
United's Management Response United's Management Response
Ed Kalahiki Ed Kalahiki

By Teri Okita – bio | email

Honolulu International Airport (HawaiiNewsNow) - United Airlines flight attendants hit the picket lines at Honolulu International Airport to protest, what they say, is a failure by United management to negotiate a new contract.

The protests took place in Honolulu and in major cities across the country, plus at international airports in Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, and Hong Kong. The pilots union and the machinists union joined the picket lines.

15,000 United flight attendants have been working under a contract that became amendable one year ago, and they say management has not moved on issues of pay and benefits. Eight years ago, flight attendants say they took deep pay cuts and their pensions were canceled. According to the union, those cuts were supposed to end in January 2010 when changes to the contract became allowable.

Flight attendants claim they're working at 1994 wage levels and, when compared with schedules and staffing from 2002, say they're doing almost 50 percent more work. Their position is: the airline is making a profit these days but not sharing that profit with employees.

"United management has always recognized Honolulu's contribution to the United experience," says local union president Ed Kalahiki. "Flight attendants are just looking for fair wages to carry on."

In response, United Airlines says it won't negotiate publicly but released this statement: "We are committed to working constructively with all of our unions to develop contracts that are fair to both employees and the company".

United and Continental airlines merged seven months ago. Earlier this week, the newly-formed management team says it reached a tentative contract agreement with 9,500 Continental flight attendants. It includes an incremental pay increase of five percent.

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