Business Report: 2/16/2015 - West coast dock talks

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the West Coast dock talks stretch out, more people are taking an interest. Longshore work is hazardous. A longshore worker is statistically more likely to be killed on the job than either a cop or a firefighter.

So they make good money and they have good medical.

Management has already offered to keep the medical. And it's offering 3% annual raises that will keep the workers ahead of inflation.

So what's the holdup?

The ILWU made a last-minute demand that the Pacific Maritime Association is choking on. The union wants to unilateral power to fire a mediator. Mediators and arbitrators tend to be split-the-difference people, who try to see both sides. If either side can fire a mediator, there won't be much mediation.

Is this the only issue? No one outside the talks knows.

The two sides have been more forthcoming about the negotiations than most contract negotiators. But we're hardly being told everything, and the mediation nonstarter might be something for labor to drop after getting some other thing we don't even know about.

And the Hawaii exemptions? Both sides understand that Alaska and Hawaii are special cases, and the union has thousands of members in Hawaii, including hundreds of hotel workers.

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