Machinists Union, Senator Schatz Urge United Airlines to Keep Jobs in Hawaiian Islands

Representatives and members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) today called on United Airlines to rethink its outsourcing plans in Kona, Maui and Lihue.

United announced in mid-March that it will solicit bids from sub-contractors in an effort to lower the carrier’s costs by outsourcing fleet and passenger service operations.

“I am asking United Airlines to cease its efforts to proceed with the outsourcing process,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. “These are 220 jobs, essential to working families in Hawai’i and central to our visitor industry and local economy. We all trusted United to follow through on their commitment and that’s what’s so terrible about this. United Airlines needs to keep its promise. In Washington, I will do everything in my power to ensure that happens.”

“I am not sure what’s worse; losing my job after three decades of loyal service, or the fact that when United was going through tough times our families sacrificed and now that better times are here we are discarded for higher profits,” said IAM member and United employee in Lihue, Gary Betzen. “Loyalty is obviously a one street and I will fight along side my union because if we don’t who will?”

“With many years at United, I was hoping for a gold watch not a pink slip,” said IAM member Maria Drey, who works for United in Maui. “This is about greed. Pure and simple.”

The IAM has enforced contractual provisions that require United to enter into negotiations with the union before any outsourcing can take place. The first meetings were held in the middle of April and future meetings have been scheduled.

“The Machinists Union will utilize every available option to keep IAM members working in every location United has targeted for outsourcing,” said IAM General Vice President Sito Pantoja. “There’s no good justification to upset families and communities just to pad the bottom line. I’d also like to thank Senator Schatz for stepping up and doing the right thing for those he represents.”

The IAM represents more than 30,000 ground workers at United Airlines and approximately 4,000 active and retired members in the Hawaiian Islands.