Organizing victories on Hawaii’s docks

Ratifying the CBA: HSI Supervisors voted in favor of ratifying their newly negotiated collective bargaining agreement

2016 was a busy year of ILWU organizing activity on the docks of Hawaii. A new Matson clerical unit was organized into Local 142, and a charter was granted to ILWU Local 100 to create a home for four newly-organized units of longshore supervisors who came into the union.  Workers in these new units met on their days off to develop contract demands and to elect five separate negotiating committees. Contract talks began in late 2016 for the Matson clericals and supervisors at Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. (“HSI”), Matson Facilities and Maintenance, and Young Brothers, Ltd. Negotiations for McCabe, Hamilton and Renny supervisors started this year. International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado served as spokesperson for each set of negotiations. “Negotiating a first collective bargaining agreement is tough.” stated Furtado. “You’ve got 30-plus sections of contract language and

economics to wrestle over with the Employers.” None of the 21 members elected to the five negotiating committees, had ever been involved in negotiations and only one worker had ever belonged to a union. Despite this, Furtado said “Members of all the committees worked hard, learned fast, and took their responsibility seriously. It wouldn’t be possible to run five separate negotiations for first contracts without strong committees. We also had great support from the 142 Hawaii Longshore Division.” In the early morning hours of Friday April 21, the first of these committees reached a tentative agreement – the new unit of Matson clericals. Later that same morning, negotiations stepped up with HSI. The outlines of a tentative agreement were hammered out over the weekend and a final tentative agreement was reached on May 2. The Matson clerical unit was able to make substantial gains in wages and benefits, including family medical with no monthly premium and

a greatly improved retirement plan. As non-union workers, many members in this unit were used to getting a bonus instead of a raise. As ILWU members, everyone will receive increases of 3 percent in each of the next three years. Some workers also saw pay upgrades in addition to their 3 percent raise. On April 30, Matson clerical workers unanimously ratified their contract. Unit Secretary Joy Borbo stated: “Before we joined the ILWU we had no representation and we were ‘at-will’ employees. Now we are bargaining unit employees, we have rights, we have the collective power to negotiate a contract, and a voice to help enforce our contract. Fortunately for us that voice is the ILWU… this is the best thing that has ever happened in my career at Matson.” Local 100 HSI supervisors held their ratification meeting on May 5, and their first contract was also unan

imously approved. HSI supervisors won a guaranteed 40-hour work week and 3.5% wage increases in each of the next three years – with back pay to September 20, 2016. In addition, some classifications received wage upgrades and premiums. HSI supervisors also won family medical benefits with no monthly premiums and – for the first time – twelve paid holidays (supervisors were previous salaried workers). As non-union salaried workers, HSI supervisors weren’t paid overtime and had no differential for working the night shift – injustices they corrected in their first union contract. “The hard-fought victories won by the Matson clerical workers and HSI supervisors will greatly benefit these workers and sets the stage for good agreements to be won at the three supervisor units still in negotiations.” Furtado said.

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