By Mari-Ela David
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- More than three dozen shuttle drivers at the Honolulu International Airport are without jobs. Their union is now calling on the state to investigate the unexpected layoffs. The controversy involves the new Wiki Wiki Shuttle contract, which took effect April 1st.
The Wiki Wiki Shuttles at the Honolulu International Airport are now painted with a simple 'HNL' sign on them. It's a change that marks a switch in operators, with Roberts Hawaii as the new contractor.
65 employees with the Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG) used to drive the shuttles, but the contract change has left 41 of them without a job.
"It's unfortunate. Roberts told these employees that were not brought back that they were not qualified. These employees have been there 17 years, 20, 30 years, never had any problems yet they're being told they are not qualified to do the work they've been doing for 17, 20, 30 years," said Hawaii Teamsters President Ron Kozuma.
The Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers Union Local 996 says in the past, when the state renews the Wiki Wiki contract, the winning bidder hires back all the drivers who operated the shuttles.
Teamster President Ron Kozuma questions whether Roberts Hawaii is trying to block the union.
"There's another underlying issue that the reason they did not bring back the majority of the people was Roberts didn't want the union in there. By not bringing back the majority of the people in essence, there is no union," said Kozuma.
Kozuma says they cannot enter a company if more than 50% of its employees are not union members. Hawaii Teamsters and former ASIG employees will take the issue up to lawmakers at the Capitol Thursday morning.