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StarBulletin.com

Pilots union puts Hawaiian Air 'on notice'


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POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Air Line Pilots Association International's executive board has unanimously approved a $2 million grant from its major contingency fund to provide Hawaiian Airlines' pilots with the necessary resources to prepare for a possible strike, if no contract agreement can be reached with the company.

ALPA announced the grant a day after Hawaiian said it had posted a profit of $23.5 million in the first quarter.

The pilots union, which has been negotiating with Hawaiian on a contract for nearly two years, is seeking a 3 to 5 percent cost-of-living increase.

Capt. Eric Sampson, chairman of the Hawaiian Airlines unit of ALPA, said the grant should put Hawaiian management “;on notice”; that ALPA rejects the company's attempts to maximize profit on the back of its employees. He said it's “;obvious to us that our management either can't or won't accept that they must share their success with employees.”;

Sampson pointed out that last year Hawaiian “;ordered billions of dollars worth of new airplanes”; and that earlier this month a proxy filing disclosed that President and Chief Executive Mark Dunkerley had received in 2008 a 42 percent year-over-year increase in compensation to nearly $3.3 million.

“;(On Tuesday) the company reported another strong quarter, yet management has stalled negotiations since 2007 claiming they can't afford to give pilots anything more than a token 1 percent increase,”; Sampson said.

Hawaiian fired back yesterday and said the union's “;continuing mischaracterization of the company's bargaining position”; has not helped bring the parties together.

“;Hawaiian's pilots are among the highest paid in the industry,”; the company said. “;Notwithstanding this, Hawaiian remains committed to bargaining in good faith to sign a new contract, and has been offering ways to increase the pay of its pilots, as long as it doesn't deepen the company's competitive disadvantage.”;