Yep, they’re still at it. Let me bring you up-to-date on some of the news since my last post (in no particular order):
- Fare increases. The City Council approved a bill today that raises fares on October 1st – the second raise this year. Adult riders will pay $40 per month or $2 at the fare box (according to Mayor Harris, the highest single-ride fare in the country). Fares also increase for children, and senior riders are being hit especially hard – the new pass for seniors is $30 per year versus $25 for two years. (Transfers, which were often abused under the old system, remain free but will be limited to one bus change.)
- Reinforcements. Teamsters International sent Vice President Jim Santangelo to Hawai’i last week – with a checkbook – to provide both financial and morale support to the striking bus drivers. He has spoken to the media in favor of the bus drivers, but some officials have accused him of not fully understanding the situation. KHON2 has reported that Santangelo has the authority to release as much as $700 per week to the striking employees.
- Public Relations. Local union leader Mel Kahele and Santangelo joined local radio celebrities Perry & Price in KSSK’s studios last week in an attempt to gain public support for the drivers. The PR move went sour after union employees began to call in, criticizing Kahele for not listening to union members.
- Court Battles. The Star-Bulletin is reporting that union bus driver Anson “Slim” Ilae will not be on eligible to run for President. The Teamsters say that he didn’t pay his dues on time, but Ilae’s attorney, Michael Green, claims that his disqualification was planned. Kahele is running for re-election unopposed.
- Longer contracts. The Teamsters, who are meeting with OTS representatives as this goes live, have proposed a five-year contract, rather than the previous three-year contracts the parties had been working on. The current proposal calls for wage increases in the fourth and fifth year, and pension contribution increases the first, second, fourth, and fifth years.
Kahele told reporters earlier this evening that the union was confident that an agreement could be reached tonight. OTS declined to comment.