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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, October 1, 2004

Meadow Gold talks continue into night

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Negotiators for Meadow Gold Dairies and its unionized employees were meeting late last night in an attempt to reach a tentative contract agreement and avoid a work stoppage.

The contract that covers about 150 members of the Hawai'i Teamsters and Allied Workers Local 996 was to expire at 12:01 this morning. On Wednesday, the workers overwhelmingly authorized union officials to call a strike if contract negotiations failed.

The two sides began negotiating with a federal mediator at 9 a.m. yesterday. At 10 p.m. a union official said he was hopeful that a strike could be averted.

"There has been movement on both sides and we're all trying to put forth a good-faith effort to keep the talks going," said Ron Kozuma, Teamsters' secretary-treasurer.

A Meadow Gold official said during a dinner break that the company was also "optimistic" that a settlement could be reached last night.

Key issues going into yesterday's talks were medical benefits, the company's subcontracting policy, pension and wages.

Glenn Muranaka, president of Meadow Gold Dairies of Hawai'i, said earlier yesterday that he was surprised the union authorized a strike.

"We believe we have an excellent wage and benefits package to offer and are hopeful that a resolution will come soon," Muranaka said. "However, in the meantime, the company is making plans in the event a strike occurs."

The contract covers drivers, processors, warehouse employees, clerical staff, mechanics, merchandisers, loaders and stackers.