Assistance centers planned as new HECO negotiations scheduled

Darren Pai
Darren Pai

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Representatives from Hawaiian Electric Company and IBEW Local 1260 will meet with a federal mediator on Sunday morning. The development comes one day after roughly 1,300 unionized electric workers from three counties decided to strike.

"What this means is that we will be sitting down to talk tomorrow and using the services of a mutual 3rd party mediator. Hopefully, this gives us the opportunity to help move this forward," explained HECO spokesman Darren Pai.

The walkout happened as severe weather struck, toppling utility poles in Ewa Beach.

"The priority today is to get the poles off the ground, out of the street and stood up. Tomorrow, the effort will be to lift wires up and attach them," said Honolulu mayor Peter Carlisle.

Hawaiian Electric management employees restored service to about 6,000 customers in Ewa Beach, but a circuit problem this morning caused 2,000 of them to lose power again. About 300 customers got their electricity back, but the 1,700 others will likely be without power through the night. Some homes in areas like Waimanalo, Kailua, and Waiawa may also be having problems.

"We understand that this has been trying to everybody and we understand that patience is running out with a number of people," said Carlisle.

Hawaiian Electric officials said repairs are taking longer than usual due to the strike.

"We want to make sure we come out of this with a contract that balances the interest of our employees and customers, and we want to welcome back our unionized employees as soon as possible," said Pai.

Governor Neil Abercrombie is working with state agencies and the Hawaii National Guard to offer assistance to Oahu residents affected by the delayed power outage repairs due to the strike. Assistance centers will be set up in Ewa Beach and Windward Oahu areas. The locations and operating schedules will be announced on Sunday, March 6. For more information, call State Civil Defense at 733-4300.