Union workers at Hawaiian Telcom, the state’s largest telephone company, are taking a vote to authorize a strike just one week before Hawaii hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting of world leaders.
Union leaders are recommending members vote against a new contract the company has offered and vote to authorize a strike.
The company said it has contingency plans in place to ensure that customers receive service in the event of a strike.
The results of the strike vote will be announced on Monday.
The vote comes just a week before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit begins on Nov. 7. The week-long conference is expected to bring about 20,000 people to Honolulu and will culminate Nov. 12-13 when President Barack Obama hosts the leaders of the other 20 APEC nations.
Hawaiian Telcom workers were scheduled to work at the Hawai’i Convention Center and at other venues during the APEC meeting, union and company officials said.
Regarding APEC, the company said, "Our contingency plans for a possible strike considered the special needs and focus required during the period leading up to and during APEC conference. Our plans provide for essential functions normally performed by the Company’s union-represented employees to be performed by reassigned management employees and non-union employees, along with outside contractors in key technical areas. For security reasons, we cannot disclose our plans relative to APEC in any greater detail, but we have planned for this contingency and are prepared for this important event."
Hawaiian Telcom said the company’s three-year contract offer includes:
>> 1 percent wage increases each year and an annual $500 ratification bonus each year;
>> Union employees are currently provided a pension and matching 401(k) of 82 cents per dollar the employee puts in up to 6 percent of base salary. The company will enhance the 401(k) company contribution to a dollar-for-dollar match up to 10 percent of base salary while freezing pension plan benefits at existing values;
>> Union employees currently pay nothing toward full healthcare coverage for themselves and dependents. The company’s offer would require employees to contribute 10 percent to healthcare premiums; and
>> Employees currently may take up to 26 weeks fully paid sick leave each year. The company’s offer provides up to 8 weeks fully-paid sick leave annually, plus adds company-paid long-term disability and long-term care insurance.