Turnout high so far
for Local 996 election

Members who have lost
their ballots must request a
new one by 5 p.m. tomorrow

Turnout in the election to lead the union that represents about 6,000 city bus workers and drivers for other private companies is the highest in years, according to the League of Women Voters, which is in charge of counting the ballots.

So far about 2,300 members have mailed in ballots, more than a third of the union's membership, said Chris Boucher, a spokesman for Hawaii Teamsters Local 996.

The high turnout comes despite an apparent mix-up that caused at least 150 union members to throw away the ballots thinking they were junk mail.

Boucher said the union has been getting numerous calls from members who thought the ballots were donation requests from the League of Women Voters, Boucher said. He said the envelopes did not have information that ballots were inside.

Boucher sent out a press release yesterday reminding members who may have thrown away their ballots that the deadline for requesting a new ballot is tomorrow at 5 p.m.

League elections coordinator Arlene Ellis said she's heard nothing about the problems, though she has sent out second ballots to about 220 members who said they haven't received them.

She said that union members should know that the league is conducting the union's elections because they've been doing so since 1980.

She also said the league has procedures in place to make sure members do not cast more than one ballot.

The election is for the union's president, secretary, treasurer and members of the board of directors.

Current union president Mel Kahele was running unopposed for another three-year term after the only other candidate for the position was ruled ineligible to run because of a dispute over dues.

Anson "Slim" Ilae, a shuttle driver for Budget Rent-A-Car, sued the union in federal court last month seeking to reverse the decision. The court ruled that the union did not discriminate against him.

But just three days after the settlement of a month-long bus strike, the union allowed Ilae to run for president after he presented information that his dues were paid on time.

Union members can request second ballots up until tomorrow by calling any of the following numbers: 532-7448, 537-6267 or 941-3724. All ballots for the election are due by Friday and their results will be announced Nov. 2. There will be no extensions given because of the mix-up, Boucher said.

Ellis said she's pleased with the high turnout so far. "It's more than we have had in any of our previous elections. I'm very, very happy about the response."

Kahele has been union president since 1996. In addition to bus workers, Local 996 represents United Parcel Service, Queen's Medical Center, St. Francis Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center drivers and workers.


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