Schatz threatens Congressional action over potential United outsourcing
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
With United Airlines mulling the outsourcing of 22 ground operations jobs at the Kahului, Kona and Lihue airports, Senator Brian Schatz made an appearance at the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers headquarters.
"I am asking United Airlines to cease its efforts to proceed with the outsourcing process" he said.
Schatz pointed to the individuals and families that will be hurt by the outsourcing.
Said Kahului Airport United customer service representative Dawn Johnson, "United is basically going to outsource our station, and basically telling us either if we want to keep the job, take a 30-40 percent pay cut, or move".
Bill Darby also works at Kahului Airport for United. He says the transfer option is impractical. "They won't even cover my relocation because it's considered the next county and because it's less than fifty miles. As though I could drive here each day and commute like it's L.A.".
Schatz vowed to rally to the defense of employees like this.
"As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and Subcommittee on Aviation, I'm prepared to begin a number of actions including a potential oversight hearing" he said.
Schatz and the union are worried that the actions in Hawaii could be a precursor to similar moves at other airports, by other airlines.
"If one airline reduces its labor costs, even marginally, then the other airlines turn around and say we have to lower our labor costs. So it can have a detrimental effect across many different markets if the company gets away with doing something like this" said Ira Levy of IAM.
United offered a statement in response to Schatz's press conference, reading:
"We haven't made any decisions, but we must continually look for new opportunities to run a more efficient and financially sustainable business."
Schatz said he expects to hear from United in the next couple of days.