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HECO union workers approve new contract

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Hawaiian Electric Co.’s unionized employees ratified a new contract yesterday, ending a strike that began a week earlier.

The contract covers 1,280 workers on Oahu, Hawaii island, Maui, Molokai and Lanai who are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260. The effective date of the contract is Jan. 1, 2011, and it expires Oct. 31, 2013.

A recorded message on an answering machine at union headquarters instructed employees to report to work on Monday at their normal starting time unless they are called in earlier by a supervisor.

"We look forward to welcoming our union employees back to work," said Dick Rosenblum, HECO president and chief executive officer. "We sincerely appreciate the patience of our customers during this process."

Rosenblum did not give any details on terms of the contract. Lance Miyake, the union’s business manager, did not return calls seeking comment.

The workers went on strike March 4. A tentative agreement was reached Monday. The ratification vote was conducted Wednesday in Maui County, Thursday on Hawaii island and yesterday on Oahu.

Contract negotiations had been going on since last September. When no deal had been reached by the original expiration date of Oct. 31, the contract was extended for three more months.

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement on Jan. 31, the last day of the extension. However, union members rejected the agreement on Feb. 18, setting the stage for the eventual walkout on March 4.

Contract talks are scheduled to begin in August between IBEW Local 1357 and Hawaiian Telcom. That contract expires Sept. 12.

 

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