VIDEO: 200 MECO Union Employees Walk the Picket Line
By Wendy Osher
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lhl8xM24eE /] An estimated 200 union employees on Maui made a visible presence today for the first time since they walked off the job on Friday afternoon. Picket lines formed at around 8 a.m. in front of the main offices in Kahului as well as near the substation at the Dairy Road/Hana Highway Intersection.
Strike Captain Sam Daunhauer, a customer service employee with Maui Electric said, “We’re out here basically to have a presence.”
“We’re on strike to basically keep what we have. It’s not about wanting more, it’s not about getting rich,” said Daunhaer. “A lot of people have been supportive and we appreciate all of it,” he said.
Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light Company have been working to negotiate a new contract with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1260, which represents the company’s unionized employees on Oahu, Maui County and Hawaii Island.
The former contract expired on October 31, 2010 but had been extended through January 31, while negotiations continued. However, an agreement for a new contract has not yet been reached.
“We are very disappointed that union chose to strike at this time. We were still willing to continue negotiations. Our goal has been to arrive at a settlement that balances the interests of our employees and our customers. We apologize for any inconvenience our customers may experience,” said Dick Rosenblum, Hawaiian Electric president and chief executive officer.
Non-union employees of Hawaiian Electric Company, Maui Electric Company and Hawaii Electric Light Company are operating the companies’ electric systems during the union’s work stoppage.
Additional customer service information:
All customer outage reports will continue to be investigated and repairs made as needed. To report an outage, call:
• HECO: 548-7961
• HELCO: 969-6666
• MECO: 871-7777 (Maui); 1-877-871-8461 (Molokai & Lanai)
Customers can continue to call the Customer Assistance Center for help. Business hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at HECO and HELCO and from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at MECO.
• HECO: 548-7311
• HELCO: 969-6999
• MECO: 871-9777 (Maui); 1-877-871-8461 (Molokai & Lanai)
Walk-in service – including payment drop boxes – at HECO, HELCO and MECO offices will be temporarily halted, but the following payment options are available:
• Automatic Bill Payment (forms available at www.heco.com)
• Online payment via www.heco.com
• Charge or debit card (service charges apply)
• Residential customers call 1-888-813-2207
• Commercial customers call 1-888-813-2215
Customers may also pay their bills at the following locations. During the strike period, service charges paid by customers at these locations will automatically be credited to their accounts at a later date.
• First Hawaiian Bank
• Foodland, SackNSave
• KTA Stores (except Hilo)
Priority will be given to repair work. New service will be installed as resources permit, with priority given to emergencies. Requests to start electric service will require a minimum of 48 hours notice.
Most electric meters will not be read during a strike and bills may be estimated based on past usage. Any difference from actual electricity use will be adjusted the next time MECO crews read meters.