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United Airlines jobs to stay in Kona

July 11, 2014 - 4:47am

More than 60 jobs with United Airlines will stay in Kona, under an agreement reached between the carrier and an employees union.

United workers represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers agreed to modified wages, a suspension of company contributions to 401(k) plans and scheduling flexibility, according to an announcement released Thursday by the union. In return, United will retain 220 jobs at Kona International Airport and airports on Maui and Kauai rather than outsourcing the work.

The airline notified employees in March that it was examining its options for staying competitive with its above-the-wing and below-the-wing positions. Airline spokeswoman Christen David said at the time that staff changes under consideration could affect as many as 63 employees in Kona.

In an email Thursday, David said United was happy with an agreement that would keep jobs within the airline.

“This is a great example of how we can work together with the IAM to make changes that ensure a sustainable and healthy future for both the company and our employees,” she said.

In a press release, the union credited U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz for pushing to retain the jobs. Members voted overwhelmingly to accept the agreement, which is set to go into effect in October. Schatz wrote a letter in April to United President Jeffrey Smisek opposing any outsourcing of jobs in Kona, Kahului, Maui, and Lihue, Kauai, and also met with the airline’s senior representatives, according to a statement from Schatz’s office.

“I am glad United Airlines heeded our call to reconsider their outsourcing plan and followed through with their commitment,” Schatz said. “These 220 jobs across the state are not only important to the working families they directly affect, but are also central to our visitor industry and local economy.”

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