Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle on Saturday urged members of the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and HECO officials to reach an agreement, as non-union crews work to restore power to Oahu.
Carlisle, who is often critical of unions, said he is trying to stay neutral in the bargaining dispute. But he was stern in his characterization of how important resolution is.
“I’ve spoken with both representatives of HECO and IBEW,” Carlisle told reporters Saturday at City Hall. “They both know that I want them to meet and settle their differences as soon as possible. Period.”
About 1,700 Oahu residents are still without power, but city officials said the lack of electricity so far hasn’t caused serious accidents or death.
“Of the 2,000 customers and homes that were without power this morning, only 300 have been fixed so far,” Carlisle said. “The problem is an underground wire, and all efforts are being made to find the exact location (of the problem).”
Electricity problems began with a Thursday night storm that pounded Oahu. It coincided with union workers for utility company HECO choosing to strike. Members of the local IBEW chapter last month rejected a tentative contract agreement.
The city’s director of Emergency Services, James Ireland, said his staffers responded to two “medical emergencies” in which people who rely on equipment that relies electricity could not use that equipment. Ireland said a number of others sought help at hospitals for the same reason. He said no one died as a result.
Ireland said one patient is stable and the other is in “serious condition with a good prognosis.”
City Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka said there are still traffic signals without electricity, and emphasized that drivers who arrive at an intersection with non-working signals should treat the intersection as a four-way stop. He said buses are running as usual except for route 44, which is taking a detour. Wastewater treatment is also being handled as usual, with only one pump station running on a generator, city Environmental Services Director Tim Steinberger told Civil Beat.
“We understand that this has been trying for everybody, and we understand that patience is running out,” Carlisle said. “Every effort is being made with the personnel to get this problem solved.”
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