Thursday, October 21, 1999

Dock union,
management get
ready for talks

Shipping companies and
workers will return to the
table Saturday; meantime,
it's business as usual

By Debra Barayuga
and Russ Lynch


It was business as usual on Hawaii's docks today, as the dockworkers union and employers prepared to resume bargaining on Saturday.

Shipping companies said cargo was being loaded and unloaded and there was no sign of picketing or slowdowns or other union activity to interfere with normal operations.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142, which represents the 500-plus dockworkers around the state, is now free to set up picket lines or even strike, after U.S. District Judge David Ezra last night lifted his earlier injunction against such action.

Union representatives were not available for comment late this morning, but it was apparent that the union chose to take no action for the time being, preferring instead to get back to the bargaining table.

The union and stevedoring management, which is represented by the Hawaii Employers Council, have agreed to hold a negotiation session at 9 a.m. Saturday at the ILWU hall on Atkinson Drive.

Representatives of the four stevedoring companies that employ the ILWU workers were meeting this morning at the council offices on Waiwai Loop, mapping their strategy for the negotiations.

Neither management or the union has disclosed the terms they are seeking or even the terms of the previous contract, which was terminated unilaterally by the union Monday night after a 102-day extension from the original June 30 expiration date.

Workers say they want parity with the West Coast, where ILWU hourly wages range from $27 to $62 (including overtime) currently, rising to $28-$65 in 2001-2002 under a new three-year contract agreed to in August. Hawaii stevedores note that they do not work as many hours as their counterparts on the West Coast, where the economy is stronger and the ports are busier.

Because no local contract exists, there was no longer a basis for the injunction against job action, Ezra said in making his ruling at a hearing late yesterday.

With the injunction lifted, any restraints on the union are no longer applicable, Herbert Takahashi, ILWU attorney, said after the hearing. The union has been holding strike-authorization votes throughout the state this week. The last vote will be tomorrow on Oahu, where the majority of Local 142's members are.

Ezra brushed aside complaints that either party has been foot-dragging. "I see no bad faith by either party," he said.

Because the union is polling its members on whether to authorize a strike, the earliest the union can meet with employers is Saturday, Ezra said.

Both parties agree that a dock strike would cripple Hawaii's economy and the state, he said, adding that "both sides have pledged to resolve the matter amongst themselves," and not in public.

Dockworkers' strike looms
Strike fears spark shopping spree
California dockworkers OK contract

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
[Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1999 Honolulu Star-Bulletin