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Wednesday, August 9, 2000

TheBus workers
seeking more pay

They're also asking for
better pensions in a new
contract proposal

By Tim Ruel


Some 160 bus workers at a union meeting last night told their leaders they wanted higher wages and better pensions than what was offered in a contract proposal that rank-and-file rejected last month.

The workers met with union representatives from Hawaii Teamsters and Allied Workers Local 996 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Kapalama School in Kalihi.

Mel Kahele, union president, would not release specific suggestions from the meeting. The union represents 1,300 drivers and other employees of TheBus operator Oahu Transit Services Inc., and many workers did not show up last night.

Kahele said he did not want to mislead those who didn't attend.

Kahele said the next step is going over the contract, then restarting negotiations, though he did not know when he would meet with Oahu Transit. When asked about a strike, he said, "It could happen."

On July 27, nearly 60 percent of TheBus employees voted against the union's three-year contract proposal.

Kahele had accused political opponents, who are running against him in union elections scheduled for this fall, of manipulating the members to reject the contract.

The contract would have provided three annual pay raises of 2 percent, 2.5 percent and 2 percent. Entry-level bus drivers have been earning about $13 an hour, while senior drivers have been getting $19 an hour.

The workers' previous four-year contract expired at the end of June, but bus service has continued as usual so far.

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