Fate of Matson lies in limbo

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UPDATE (June 29, 2013): Strike averted, Matson deal reached

No deal, no work. That’s the ultimatum from hundreds of works in charge of sailing Matson ships to the state.

The clock is ticking for the company and crewmembers to reach a new contract. But with 10 days left, the union says talks are severely stalled.

Sailors and Marine firemen are putting the pressure on Matson Navigation Company to negotiate a deal now.

“We are reluctantly informing the public about this because there are only 10 days left before the contracts expire,” attorney Charles Khim said.

On July 1, 1,600 workers could hit the picket lines. About half of them Hawaii are crewmembers. If they do, Matson says it would shut down shipping to Hawaii.

Matson brings in three ships a week to Hawaii, loaded with about 1,300 containers per ship, everything from cars to food to flooring.

“If we don’t receive our shipments on time, we can’t supply the neighborhood islands showrooms in Kona, Kahului and Lihue on Kauai as well as flagship store in Honolulu,” Wisteria Lane Sales Account Executive Steve Koopman said.

Wisteria Lane is the largest flooring provider in the state. A Matson strike could send their business and many other companies into a scramble.

“Hawaii would be in real trouble if the container ships stop coming to Hawaii to bring food and services,” Khim said.

In a statement, Matson says it “…feels that there is sufficient time remaining to work out an agreement. We do not anticipate any disruption to our service.”

The unions say the major sticking point in negotiations is that Matson wants workers to take a pay cut so the company can buy two new ships at a price tag of $200 million a piece.

“Matson has not said how much they want employees to kick back and not said which employees they want to have salaries kick back,” Khim said.

It’s still work as usual. The union is asking for a three-year deal. Matson wants a four-year deal.

Both sides will meet at the table on Tuesday to hash it out.


Matson contract deadline looms for sailors and marine firemen

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