HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Contract tension continues for the unions. This time, the United Public Worker's Union, which is unhappy about proposed pay cuts, is voting on whether to authorize a strike.
The new contract calls for a 5% pay cut, plus a 50-50 share of health benefits. UPW members have started casting their ballots either for or against a strike. A union insider suggests the UPW could strike in the beginning of November, just a few days before world leaders arrive in Hawaii for the APEC conference. If they do, Hawaii won't be pristine for the conference.
The UPW represents some 13,000 blue collar workers here in Hawaii. We'll be missing trash collectors, and workers who clean the Honolulu Airport.
Governor Abercrombie says the possibility of a strike doesn't worry him, "Any speculation about worst case scenarios, it's just that. Worst case scenarios. I'm concentrating on the positive side, saying that we're all in this together and we need to work together and we'll come out of it together. We have not met with the UPW because they have not chosen to ever meet. So everything has been from their point of view off the record so it's very, very difficult to negotiate when no one ever sits down to do it."
A worker we spoke with says he hopes the union doesn't strike. The final vote takes place Friday at Aloha Stadium.
The proposed cuts match the two year deal that the Hawaii Government Employee's Association ratified recently. The contract is also similar to the one the Hawaii State Teacher's Association is fighting.