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HECO, IBEW still talking as contract expiration looms

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Hawaiian Electric Co. and its largest group of unionized workers were continuing to negotiate terms of a new labor agreement today to replace the one that expires at midnight Sunday.

The contract covers about 1,280 HECO workers on Oahu and at its sister utilities on Maui and the Big Island doing a range of jobs, including line work, meter reading and customer service. The workers are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260.

“We are continuing to meet with the union to come up with an agreement that is fair to both our employees and our customers,” said HECO spokesman Darren Pai. “We are optimistic that we will be able to achieve that.”
Neither side would comment on the substance of the negotiations.

About 700 of the workers cast ballots in a recent strike authorization vote, which was approved by a 97 percent margin, according to the union.

The vote authorizes the union leadership to call for a strike on members’ behalf should it become necessary. Unions often take strike authorization votes as a way to give them more leverage in their negotiations with management.

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