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Matson, ship unions negotiate new contract

By Sarah Zoellick

LAST UPDATED: 12:46 a.m. HST, Jul 1, 2013

A four-year contract agreement reached this weekend between Matson Inc. and three unions that represent workers on its cargo ships does not include any cutbacks for workers, a president of one of the unions said Sunday.

The new contract, which is subject to ratification by members of the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, the Seafarers International Union and the Marine Firemen’s Union, was agreed upon Saturday, less than a day before Sunday’s midnight strike deadline.

“We thought the company was going to try to force us into kickbacks, but we were successful in collective barginaing, and we look forward to the next four years (and) a good relationship with Matson Navigation Co.,” said Gunnar Lundeberg, president of the roughly 1,000-member Sailors’ Union of the Pacific, said by telephone.

Lundeberg said the three unions have been bargaining together since 1901. 

The last contract with the unions and Matson was reached in 2008, also on the day the before the earlier contract's expiration.

“Matson is pleased to assure our customers that there will be no disruption to our service,” company spokesman Jeff Hull said in an email Saturday.

Lundeberg said he wished he could talk about the terms of the agreement, but that “it’s all subject to membership ratification.” He said the company initially indicated it would seek concessions from workers but was vague on what concessions would be proposed. 

“We assume they were in the form of wages, but the company finally realized that we are not going to tolerate that,” Lundeberg said. “We had great support from our folks in Hawaii and so, you know, they didn’t make the proposal.”

The majority of the good shipped to Hawaii are carried on Matson vessels.

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