STRIKE: HECO workers walk off the job

Union members holding picket signs on King Street. Photo by Peter Tang.
Union members holding picket signs on King Street. Photo by Peter Tang.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaiian Electric Co. workers on Oahu, the Big Island and Maui County went on strike starting at 3:30 p.m. Friday.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260 voted last week to authorize a strike after rejecting a tentative agreement with Hawaiian Electric, which also owns Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Co.

All HECO trucks and employees have left the repair work at Fort Weaver Road, which is still closed after several light poles fell over during windy rainstorms. About 6,500 homes and businesses in the Ewa Beach area are without power.

The absent HECO workers are being replaced by workers at Erik Builders, Hawaiian Telcom, and Oceanic Time Warner Cable, along with non-union personnel in HECO.

A key sticking point in the negotiations has been the company's insistence on raising the retirement age from 60 to 62.

More than half of all HECO employees are IBEW members including linesmen, plant operators and customer service personnel.

Union members said the strike had been in preparation for several days and was not timed to begin during power outages.

Local 1260 of the IBEW also represents electrical workers on Kauai but it is a separate enterprise with a separate contract, and there is no strike on the Garden Isle.

Gov. Abercrombie said he was contacting both sides to ask them to put aside their differences until the current blackout emergencies were resolved.

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