- Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - United Airlines is considering outsourcing some Hawaii ground operations, potentially leading to the layoff of more than 220 employees in Lihue, Kahului and Kona.

The airline told workers at the three Hawaii airports and 12 small mainland airports last week that it’s examining market rates for ground operations work, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/OGCeYr ).

The airline said it pays the same labor rates in all markets but its major competitors pay rates in line with each local market. United spokesman Christen David said the difference puts the company at a competitive disadvantage and it must look for ways to ensure its cost structure is more in line with other airlines.

“We haven’t made any decisions, but we must continually look for new opportunities to run a more efficient and financially sustainable business,” David said.

The International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Local 141, which covers the affected Hawaii employees, said in a bulletin that United contracts include language that prevents the company from unilaterally deciding to outsource work without first negotiating with the union over every airport considered.

“Negotiations will begin as soon as possible and deal with each station (airport) separately,” the union said.

United is owned by Chicago-based United Continental Holdings Inc.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com