'TheBus' employees approve new contract, avoid strike

Ron Kozuma
Ron Kozuma
Roger Morton
Roger Morton
Dara Cavaco
Dara Cavaco

By Leland Kim - bio | email

KALIHI (KHNL) - Workers for Oahu Transit Services say "yes" to a five-year contract Wednesday evening.  The agreement averts a potential strike which would have wreaked havoc on Oahu traffic. The results came down just after 6:30pm. The final vote was 1,287 "yes" to 146 "no," to approve the contract.

All day long, Honolulu bus employees cast their ballots. With their professional future at stake they voted on a new five-year labor contract with the city.

The contract includes wage increases starting with 3.4% for this year. It would then go up steadily through the fifth year, topping out at 5%.

Voting for the contract ended at 6:00 pm, Wednesday.  Just after 6:30pm, it was official; bus employees overwhelmingly approved the contract.

"For our members, it's job security," Hawaii Teamsters President Ron Kozuma said.  "They don't have to worry about if there will be a labor dispute if there is going to be a strike."

"That gives us five years of stability,"said Roger Morton, Oahu Transit Services President.  "You know, in a time of rising ridership, that's what we were really looking for was to have stability without having a lot of disruptions for our customers."

Bus riders breathe a collective sigh of relief.

"I'm happy there's no strike," said bus rider Dara Cavaco.  "I depend on the bus. I go to work on the bus and I go out, and I don't drive."

Five years ago, a bus strike crippled the city. This time people were optimistic history would not repeat itself.

"I think it was a different atmosphere this time around,"said Morton.  "I would like to commend the negotiating committee and the union for the manner in which they conducted the negotiation."

"Anything could have happened but it was a very good package for the men and women," said Kozuma.

This means "TheBus" will continue running and taking the people of Honolulu where they need to go.

"Very happy. Very happy," said Cavaco.  "That's all I can say."

"TheBus" employees union also voted on a contract for their clerical staff.  That also passed 72 to none.