VIDEO: MECO Tentative Agreement Reached, Ratification Vote Next
By Wendy Osher
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(Update: 5:45 p.m. 3/7/11)
A tentative agreement has been reached in the contract negotiations between Union officials with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Engineers Local 1260, and executives with Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company, and Hawaiian Electric Light Industries.
The two sides refrained from releasing details this afternoon, but union officials said the agreement is still subject to a ratification vote from union employees. That could take several days to accomplish, as votes are obtained from membership, which is spread over five islands.
IBEW represents approximately 1,280 workers (54% of all employees) for the three companies, which provide electric service for Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Hawaii Island.
Union workers on Maui continued to walk the picket lines through 6 p.m. this evening. It is not clear if they will will return tomorrow given the progress toward a new contract.
(Update: 3:45 p.m. 3/7/11)
Union workers from Maui Electric Company continued to walk the picket lines this afternoon despite word of a potential agreement in an ongoing contract dispute.
“As far as we know, our boss hasn’t given us the word to stop, and we’re not going to stop until we have a contract to either vote on or they tell us come back to work,” said Isaiah Santiago, a member of the Local 1260 union that was walking the picket line along Wakea Avenue in Kahului this afternoon.
Santiago, who is a Boiler Operator at the MECO Kahului Power Plant said, “We’ll keep walking the walk until 6 p.m. and showing our support for the 1260.”
According to our sources, union officials from Maui were reviewing a pending agreement this afternoon, however official word from either side could not be verified as of 3 o’clock this afternoon.
Union officials and executives with Maui Electric Company were in negotiations until late last night under the assistance of a federal mediator. The contract for Union employees expired on October 31, 2010, and was extended to January 31, 2011. Union workers say issues include benefits and take-aways.
“The main hitting point for all of us that affect the old and the young is the retirement, and until they bargain in our favor towards that, we’re not moving,” said Santiago.
If an agreement is reached, the next step would be a ratification vote.
“If we were to take a ratification vote, we are able to do Maui in one day, and I’m sure Oahu could be done in one or two days. I could see two days at most to get all of our votes in.”
There are an estimated 200 union members on Maui that walked off the job when the strike began on Friday afternoon. Statewide, there are an estimated 1300 workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260.