Wage givebacks save 220 jobs in Kahului, Kona and Lihue

Wage givebacks save 220 jobs in Kahului, Kona and Lihue

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than two-thirds of United Airlines ground service workers at Lihue, Kahului and Kona have voted to approve contract concessions that will save most of their jobs from outsourcing, union officials said Thursday.

United announced in March its intention to outsource ground service work at 15 airports including three in Hawaii. But under the current IAM contract, the workers must first be given an opportunity to remove the financial incentive to outsource by agreeing to givebacks.

Labor and management held meetings through the spring to work out what it would take to do that. No agreement was reached on the mainland and outsourcing will proceed at 12 mainland airports in October. But workers at Lihue, Kahului and Kona have saved the bulk of their jobs by voting to take cuts in pay, among other concessions.

Sen. Brian Schatz, who attended the IAM news conference, had responded to the original outsourcing announcement by writing to United CEO Jeff Smisek, reminding him that United executives had assured members of Congress that the merger of United and Continental would not lead to job cuts.

“This is very good news for the hard-working United Airlines employees and their families on Maui, Kauai, and Hawai‘i Island,” Sen. Schatz said. “These 220 local jobs across our state are not only important to the working families they directly affect, but are also central to our visitor industry and local economy.”

While United has been moving to cut jobs in some locales it is doing the opposite in others. This week the airline said it would “insource” ground service work – bringing outsourced work back into the company – at Honolulu International Airport as well as Phoenix, Denver and Washington Dulles.

The IAM contract provides that any employee who is laid off in one market can remain with the company by taking a position in another locale, the availability of such work being based entirely on seniority.

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