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Hawaii Dock Strike Averted

October 25, 1999

HONOLULU (AP) _ Hawaii dockworkers reached a tentative agreement on a new contract early Monday, averting a strike that could have crippled the islands’ economy.

The threat of a walkout on the docks had triggered panic buying of rice, toilet paper, Spam and other items in Hawaii, where 90 percent of everything arrives by ship.

The agreement between the 507-member dockworkers union and four shipping companies came after 34 hours of negotiations over two days.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142 President Eusebio Lapenia and Tim Ho, president of the Hawaii Employers Council, announced the agreement but refused to discuss details of the accord. It needs the approval of the union’s members. No vote has been scheduled.

The union had been seeking a contract similar to the three-year, 8 percent wage increase West Coast dockworkers received this summer.

Published reports said that under the contract that expired June 30, Hawaii dockworkers received $55,000 to $150,000 a year, depending on their job, hours and overtime.

Gov. Ben Cayetano, who offered to mediate if a settlement could not be reached, had warned that a dock strike could cripple Hawaii’s economy, which is finally recovering after a nine-year slump.

Earlier this month, dockworkers staged a slowdown that created a backlog of unloaded cargo ships in Honolulu Harbor.

Hawaii’s docks were shut down for five months in 1949 and 100 days in 1971 because of strikes on the West Coast.

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