A preview of things to come?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Hawaii Strike Threat Causes Panic

By JEAN CHRISTENSEN Associated Press Writer

WAIPAHU, Hawaii (AP) -- Hawaiians are stripping store shelves of rice, Spam, toilet paper and other items for fear of a dockworkers strike that could cripple a state that gets 90 percent of everything via ship.

The 507 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142 are demanding a new contract with the state's four major shipping companies.

So far, dockworkers on the islands of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii have authorized a strike. The Oahu members, by far the local's largest contingent, vote Friday. Union leaders could call a strike any time after that.

If the dockworkers strike, ships that arrive in Hawaii will sit in port without being unloaded. And if the walkout drags on, shipping companies will stop sending vessels on the five-day journey from the West Coast.

Since the voting started, residents have swamped Hawaii supermarkets.

"They've got us by the throat," said Shirley Oshiro, 61, a retired schoolteacher who found rice but no toilet paper. "It's like we're getting ready for a hurricane."

Gina Agpaoa went to the Sam's Club warehouse to stock up but found bare shelves. Rice and toilet paper were long gone, and gallons of milk were going fast. She grabbed Spam and Vienna Sausages.

The Wal-Mart in Hilo limited customers to 24 rolls of toilet paper, one bag of rice, two bags of disposable diapers and six cans of infant formula. "We're trying to make sure as many people as possible get the supplies they need," assistant manager Seni Kaseli said.

Hawaii's docks shut down for five months in 1949 and 100 days in 1971 because of a West Coast strike.

The dockworkers union wants a contract similar to the three-year, 8 percent wage increase West Coast stevedores received this summer. Contract talks are set to resume Saturday morning.

"We are not expecting a strike," said Paul Stevens, senior vice president for Matson Navigation Co., whose subsidiary, Matson Terminals Inc., is one of the four shipping companies involved. "We want to keep the commerce to Hawaii flowing. We're not digging in here at all."

Union local President Eusebio Lapenia also sounded optimistic. "Don't panic," he said. "We're going to give it our honest effort to try to come to some kind of agreement."

But because of a work slowdown at the docks last week, there is already a backlog at the harbor, with four ships sitting unloaded.

The strike threat comes just as the islands are recovering from a nine-year economic slump. Tourism is up, as are real estate sales and construction.

"A whole lot of things are finally moving in the right direction," said Michael Sklarz, an economist who is chairman of the state Council on Revenues. "You can't say anything positive about a strike."

The effects of the hoarding alone could be far-reaching. The Ala Moana Shopping Center and its 200-plus tenants on the outskirts of Waikiki will have to close if the mall can't enough toilet paper and cleaning supplies to meet health codes, general manager Dwight Yoshimura said.

In the meantime, people like Althea Kahai are preparing for life without rice. "There's always potatoes or poi," she said.

AP-NY-10-21-99 1928EDT<

Link - Newsday.com - but the link may disapear fast

-- Bob (bob@bob.bob), October 21, 1999


check out csy2k for ongoing reports - Na Kaula posting

-- Mitchell Barnes (spanda@inreach.com), October 21, 1999.

Oh boy! Maybe the state governor will call for martial law, and courtesy of clintoon, bring in the troops to suppress the strike....just like they did over a miners strike in Colorado, which called for disarmament of the local police, sheriffs as well as the local populace.

Are you ready for that?

-- OR (orwelliator@biosys.net), October 22, 1999.

If the longshoremen go on strike the companies should fire them all then open their jobs to any takers. One group should not hold an entire state hostage.

-- kozak (kozak@formerusaf.guv), October 22, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ