Hawaii feeling effects of mainland labor dispute - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii feeling effects of mainland labor dispute

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

It's a labor dispute that has lasted eight months. With no signs of a deal between dock workers and port companies, Hawaii businesses are bracing for more problems with goods getting to the islands.

Major retailers like Costco began stockpiling items last year and they have plenty of toilet paper, bottled water, and canned goods. But not all items can be stored.

"It worries us a great deal," says Tisha Uyehara, Marketing Director for Armstrong Produce, a major distributor of fruits of vegetables.

Armstrong Produce depends on companies like Matson and Horizon to bring in their items within a certain time frame.

"We have been 2 or 3 days behind, depending on where it's coming from," says Uyehara.

A federal arbitrator intervened earlier this month to help with the contract dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association which represent the companies.

"That brought more structure to the process," says Steve Getzug, spokesman for PMA. But the process seems to have stalled.

The contract expired last July, and in late October, the delivery of goods slowed as workers were cut back and containers began piling up at some of the mainland's busiest ports.

Getzug says Hawaii residents don't need to panic yet because there is a good supply of items still getting to the islands, and many companies planned ahead.

"Anticipated that there could be trouble and made arrangements to have containers and cargo delivered earlier or they changed their shipping plans," Getzug says.

For Armstrong Produce, stocking up doesn't work very well. Produce doesn't have a long shelf life and that means customers will notice a smaller supply in Hawaii stores.

"The real fragile things like the leafy greens, its kind of tough because those kind of things we try to turn in 2-3 days," says Uyehara.

Both sides say they aren't ready to give up yet, they continue to talk despite little progress.

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