Monday, October 11, 1999

Dock delay
idles isle ships
for a day

The walkout ends this morning
as stevedores from the day shift
arrive to handle the cargo

By Russ Lynch


A statewide work stoppage by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union idled cargo ships throughout Hawaii yesterday and overnight, making loading and unloading impossible until the day shift arrived this morning.

Union officials could not be reached for comment but shipping and stevedoring companies said the one-day walkout was apparently a protest at what the union saw as slow progress in local contract talks.

Matson Navigation Co. said one ship at Honolulu Harbor and two barges -- one at Kahului, Maui, and the other at Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island -- were idle from early yesterday and until early today because ILWU stevedores did not show up to work them.

Sea-Land Service Inc., a subsidiary of Richmond, Va.-based CSX Corp., said its containership Sea-Land Trader arrived yesterday from the West Coast and had not been unloaded as of early this morning.

The ILWU is protesting what it sees as a lack of progress in negotiations for a statewide waterfront contract, the shipping lines said.

Matson's containership Maui arrived in Honolulu from the West Coast at 4:55 a.m. yesterday and although the company's Honolulu terminal was open all day, ILWU longshore workers did not arrive to unload it, said Jeff Hull, a spokesman at Matson headquarters in San Francisco. Matson is owned by Honolulu-based Alexander & Baldwin Inc.

The two barges were stuck on the neighbor islands for the same reason, Hull said. "This was a statewide, I guess, work stoppage," Hull said this morning.

Other shipping officials said it was only the longshore unit that was not willing to work. Clerks and other units of the ILWU did show up for work but the ships could not be worked without the stevedores.

It's unknown what effect, if any, the stoppage will have, Hull said. "It's hard to make up time," he said. "We are doing everything to get freight off the vessels and to customers. Obviously, there's been an inconvenience."

Officials of the Hawaii Employers Council, the agency doing the negotiating for shipping management, could not be reached for comment today.

The Hawaii contract, covering about 500 members of ILWU Local 142, expired at the end of June but both parties agreed early to extend the contract, subject to cancellation on 72 hours notice from either side, while talks continued.

It is usual for Hawaii negotiators to wait until after an agreement on the West Coast docks before talking seriously about the local contract.

The ILWU and management's Pacific Maritime Association agreed in late August to a new pact that gives workers an average 8 percent wage increase over its three-year life.

Pay for the West Coast union members last year averaged $99,000 a year for dockworkers, $118,000 for clerks and $156,000 for crew supervisors. Wages and conditions on the Hawaii docks are different and no information was available on local contract terms being discussed.

One shipping industry source said the talks usually stretch on for months and noted that the last local longshore contract in 1996 was not reached until mid-November.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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