Amid contract fight, Hawaiian Air flight attendants also raise coronavirus fears

Updated: Feb. 4, 2020 at 9:57 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid the coronavirus scare, Hawaiian Airlines flight attendants are worried for their safety.

They say they’re not being allowed to wear protective equipment such as consumer-grade medical face masks while on the job.

“It doesn’t hurt for us to be cautious. For example, if you walk through HNL, you’ll see that all the Asian carriers, their agents are donning masks,” Jaci-Ann Chung, president Local Exec. Council AFA-CWA, said.

“The challenge for our flight attendant group is that we’re not medical professionals in the sense that we can’t tell if somebody’s having a hard time breathing. We aren’t there when they’re coughing, and we can’t tell if somebody’s having a fever,” Chung added.

But the airlines says they’re in line with CDC recommendations, which allows flight attendants to wear a mask if a passenger is showing symptoms.

Flight attendants claim the company is not treating them with aloha as face masks are just some of their ongoing gripes.

They’re also fighting for a new contract. They took their demands for better pay and benefits to corporate headquarters on Koapaka Street this week where the airline’s board of directors is meeting.

“The company is interested in cutting staffing. They’re interested in having us pay more for insurance premiums. Those are all things that can really impact how much money the flight attendant can take home,” Jeff Fuke of the negotiating committee, AFA, said.

After three years of stalled contract negotiations, flight attendants voted in November to authorize a strike, but it’s not imminent because they’re still in mediation.

The airline says it remains focused on finalizing a new contract.

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