IBEW Wins Guam Election
February 6, 2002
Local 1260, Honolulu, Hawaii successfully organized a unit of workers at Raytheon Guam. The 900 workers represent the first IBEW presence on the U.S. territory 3,500 miles west of Honolulu.
Not only is the election the largest organizing victory in the history of the ninth district, it is a watershed moment for the labor movement on the Pacific island, said Local 1260s Assistant Business Manager Brian Ahakuelo.
"Its going to open the door for other unions on Guam, not just the IBEW," said Ahakuelo, who was the IBEWs primary organizer on Guam.
A majority of the Navy contract workers voted in favor of IBEW representation in the late January NLRB-certified election. The campaign turned on basic issues of hours, wages and benefits. The workers had been struggling to get by on a 32-hour work week, Ahakuelo said. In negotiations planned to start in late March, the IBEW plans to bargain for an extension of the week.
The victory doubles the number of union-represented workers on the island of 154,000 to 2 percent of the work force. Ahakuelo said the IBEW win at Raytheon, the second largest employer on the island, is significant for the future of unions on Guam.
"Im going to be able to improve the quality of life for those workers in this contract," he said. "Maybe the IBEW made a change for the better for the whole island."
"This is the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of time spent," said Local 1260 Business Manager Harry Kameenui.
Raytheon Technical Services won the service contract work in 1999. The jobs now held by the pro-union workers are formerly civil service positions represented by the American Federal of Government Employees. The Raytheon service contract workers perform a wide range of base support work, from mechanics to technicians to electricians.
Raytheon countered the union effort with an aggressive, expensive anti-union campaign at an estimated cost of $100,000, Ahakuelo said, which actually worked to the IBEWs advantage.
"It prompted the employees to come to our meetings and made them realize the company was distorting the truth," he said.
Guam, the westernmost territory of the United States, has a service-oriented economy catering mostly to tourists from Asia. Other unions with locals on Guam include the Teamsters and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees. The IBEW victory has generated interest in forging a labor council, Kameenui said.