The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 reversed course Tuesday and said it now supports NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed purchase of Hawaiian Electric Industries.
Local 1260 said it changed its stance after NextEra committed in a written agreement to recognize the union as the exclusive bargaining agent for its members, to train current and future union members for new jobs that evolve with new technologies and promised there would be no layoffs for two years following the sale’s closing.
Brian Ahakuelo, the union’s business manager and financial secretary, said in a statement, “I am very proud to see that this lengthy and exhaustive process has culminated in an agreement that best serves not only Local 1260 and NextEra Energy, but also provides protections for our members and their families, has great benefits for our communities, and will deliver both short- and long-term cost benefits to energy consumers across this state.”
Previously IBEW Local 1260 said it was opposed to HEI’s sale to NextEra because the Florida-based company made no commitments to train HECO union workers for anticipated renewable energy jobs.
On Sept. 1, IBEW said in a news release, "Based on NextEra’s non-committal to Local 1260’s utility bargaining unit and Hawaii’s skilled unionized workforce overall, Business Manager Ahakuelo has no choice but to oppose NextEra’s petition to acquire Hawaiian Electric, unless and until, NEE can make a substantive and long-term contractual agreement with Local 1260."
Local 1260 said today’s announcement comes after several months of intense negotiations that began when NextEra said in December it plans to buy HEI.
Ahakuelo said the union will submit the agreement to the state Public Utilities Commission. The PUC has to approve NextEra’s proposal before the sale can close.