VIDEO: IBEW Workers at Hawaiian Telcom Hold 2-Day Strike
By Wendy Osher
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPhV_Og_PsA /] Union workers from the IBEW Local 1357 began a two-day walk-out this morning, against Hawaiian Telcom’s contract proposal.
Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 1357 at Hawaiian Telcom on Maui, started walking the picket lines this morning at around 10:30 a.m.
The union, which represents more than half of the company’s employees, announced its decision to begin the work stoppage this morning.
Maui “strike captain” Robert Peralto, who is a lineman with Hawaiian Telcom issued a prepared statement saying the company’s contract proposal threatens pensions.
The statement made further claims that the contract proposal affects medical, dental, sick leave and the future of the union and its members.
“We are asking for a fair and equitable contract that leaves our benefits and wages intact. We are not asking for any more than we have today,” Peralto said in the statement.
“We ask the public for their understanding and support as we take a stand to protect our retirement and benefits from corporate greed and mishandling,” he said.
The strike on Maui is being staged several miles away from the company’s Wailuku offices.
About two dozen union members from Hawaiian Telcom were walking the picket line this afternoon (Thursday, November 10, 2011) along Wakea Avenue between the old ML&P Kahului Cannery and the Maui Electric Company offices.
Officials at Hawaiian Telcom meantime, presented their “Last, Best and Final Offer” for a new collective bargaining agreement to the union in early October, and following a vote by membership on the offer, union leadership opted to strike.
Having anticipated this possibility, Hawaiian Telcom activated readiness plans to minimize service disruptions during the work stoppage, but cautioned that delays can be expected.
“While we hope to return to normal operations soon, we sincerely apologize to our customers for any temporary inconvenience due to the union’s action and ask for their patience and understanding during this period,” said Scott Simon, Executive Director – Corporate Communications for Hawaiian Telcom in a press release today.
Company officials expressed regret that the work stoppage comes during the high profile Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation events.
In order to meet anticipated needs, the company has reassigned management employees and non-union employees, and placed outside contractors in key technical areas.
Regarding the company’s “Last, Best and Final” offer and contingency plans, Simon said, “The company made a good faith offer for a new agreement that fairly balances all parties’ needs with the benefits provided by competitors and other employers, and the realities of competition in the communications business and a challenging economy.
“Our Last, Best and Final Offer demonstrates a commitment to ensuring that our employees continue to receive competitive pay and very favorable benefits,” he said.
Union workers from Hawaiian Telcom on Maui say they plan to return to the picket lines for another full day tomorrow. The strike was expected to conclude before the weekend.