Hawaiian Cement agrees to more talks

Hawaiian Cement agrees to more talks
Published: 18 January 2006

At the request of the federal mediator, Hawaiian Cement has agreed to resume contract talks with the union representing 20 of its workers, said Michael Coad, company vice president and chief negotiator. Teamsters Local 996 President Mel Kahele did not return calls from the Star-Bulletin to indicate whether the union would attend the meeting. Earlier, Kahele said his members were prepared to walk off the job at 12:01 a.m. Thursday after they received the company’s last, best and final contract offer.

Coad said the affected employees are responsible for unloading and distributing cement. There are 14 terminals on Oahu, one on Kauai, two on Maui and three on the Big Island. The job classifications are electrician, terminal operator, packhouse utility, heavy equipment operator, terminal laborer and packhouse laborer. Kahele said the Teamsters represent 28 Hawaii Cement employees.

Hawaiian Cement’s offer is for a $1-per-hour pay raise in the first year of a five-year contract and an 80-cent hourly increase each year after that. However, the pay raise is offset by a new 20 percent medical premium co-payment.

Hawaiian Cement pays 100 percent of the health coverage under the current contract. Every other employee group in the cement and concrete industry pays for a share of its health care premiums, Coad said.

Kahele said his members would wind up with less money in their pockets under the proposed contract because 20 percent of their health care premiums exceeds the amount of their pay increase. The affected employees currently earn between US$24 and US$28 per hour.