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IBEW Hawaii

Honolulu Mandates Union Work

Major public works projects will be union thanks to a new project labor agreement

Brian Young's picture
Jul 24, 2020

For the first time in history, the union building trades will have first priority for jobs in Honolulu after the mayor reached an agreement with the local Building Trades Council.

The new agreement would require contractors on Honolulu public works projects of over $2 million use union labor. It also says that if a non-union contractor wins a bid for one of these projects, they must hire union workers. However, the non-union shop could use up to seven of their “core” employees, but they would have to hire one union worker for every non-union worker on the site and non-union workers would have to pay union dues. The project labor agreement (PLA) prohibits strikes, requires arbitration for disputes, and promotes apprenticeships and the hiring of veterans.

The bill promises to be a big help to union shops. About 2/3 of construction in the city is non-union, so this will give union shops a big leg up when it comes to winning bids on public works projects. “All project agreements will include IBEW Local 1186, and ensure that the County has the best trained and best-qualified electricians on the job, and will help make sure projects are done the right way the first time,” said Hawaii Building and Construction Trades Council (HBCTC) President and IBEW 1186 Business Manager Damien Kim.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell, who refused to sign a bill last year that would have given unions these rights, said he agreed to this agreement because it would prevent slowdowns and strikes. “First time ever in the history of Hawaii that we all come together under one roof for our working men and women in construction ... It prevents against labor strikes, work slow downs, project disruptions - and delay adds costs,” Caldwell said.

Hawaii currently has the highest percentage of workers in a union in the country. This new agreement is sure to increase that number.

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