Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Friday, August 4, 2000

Hawaiian-pilots talks
go to mediation

Star-Bulletin staff

Hawaiian Airlines Inc. has brought in the National Mediation Board to try to resolve a contract dispute with its 450 pilots, but the pilots' union said the move is premature.

Hawaiian Air Paul J. Casey, Hawaiian Airlines president and chief executive officer, said the airline has been in talks with the pilots since December, about two months before the contract became open for amendments at the end of February.

"While we have made some progress in addressing the issues before us, it is clear that some issues are more difficult," Casey said in a statement issued yesterday. "We hope that mediation will help us reach a fair and prompt agreement."

The Air Line Pilots Association said it thought the negotiations were only at the halfway point and that it was too soon to move to mediation.

Keoni Wagner, a spokesman for Hawaiian, said the move to seek mediation should not in any way be taken as an indication that a strike is imminent. "That is absolutely not the case," he said.

Set up under 1934 amendments to a 1926 railway law, the National Mediation Board tries to resolve labor disputes that threaten vital public transportation links. Historically, more than 97 percent of disputes that went to mediation were resolved without interruptions to service, the board says.

The board can be brought in by either side in a dispute or can get involved on its own initiative. Mediation is compulsory once the board comes in, NMB officials said.

Both sides must take part but the board can eventually declare that further mediation would be useless and releases them.

If that happens, a 30-day cooling-off period starts, after which either side is free to use "self-help." In the union's case that could be work stoppages or a strike. On its side, the company could unilaterally put a new contract into place.

The union said it believes bringing in the NMB will unnecessarily complicate matters and could easily make the talks run longer, not shorter.

Kirk McBride, a Hawaiian Airlines captain and chairman of the airline's ALPA unit, said the pilots had been pushing to limit the number of items being negotiated, so as to hammer out a new contract that includes the new Boeing 717 aircraft that Hawaiian is buying to replace its interisland DC-9 fleet.

"We've bent over backwards to quickly complete work on a new contract and a B-717 agreement, but it seems management would prefer to turn over their responsibilities to a third party," he said.

E-mail to Business Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin