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Motley Fool: Pilot Strikes Cripple U.S. Airlines?

Tail Gunner Joe

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Pilot Strikes Cripple U.S. Airlines?

Across the U.S. airline industry, there are plenty airline pilots hoping to strike in order to get a larger share of the industry's record profits. However, investors and the flying public should recognize that the collective bargaining rules governing the airline industry make strikes extremely rare and difficult to pull off.

Hawaiian Airlines pilots are unhappy -- and they aren't alone
Pilots at Hawaiian Airlines claim that they earn 35%-45% less than their peers at other carriers. What's more, the pilot union has stated that Hawaiian Airlines' management is demanding onerous concessions in return for any pay raises.

The company and the pilot union have been in contract negotiations for 18 months, during which time the pilots have become increasingly restless. In May, 99% of Hawaiian's pilots voted to authorize the union to call a strike. This was followed by the opening of the strike operations center last week. The union has also asked the National Mediation Board (NMB) to declare an impasse in negotiations.

The situation at Hawaiian Airlines is far from unique. Last year, Southwest Airlines' (NYSE:LUV) pilot union formed a "strike preparedness committee" after three years of contract talks had not produced an agreement. (Southwest finally reached a tentative agreement with the union last month, though.)
 
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