BY FRANCES NUAR – The last few days have been dreary and rainy to say the least, as I’m sure you all experienced yourselves.

Instead of blue skies and sunshine, Oahu saw dismal amounts of rain and more rain–in fact at one point I woke up in a daze wondering if I had teleported to Seattle. But no, here I was in Honolulu.

Despite the rain here, I’m just happy I wasn’t in Ewa Beach where thousands of residents were without power all weekend thanks to the shenanigans of Hawaiian Electric Company and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1260.

As the Star Advertiser reported:

About 1,300 HECO workers went on strike at 3:30 p.m. Friday and began walking picket lines on Oahu, the Big Island and in Maui County. The strike’s timing was a blow to about 8,000 Oahu residents, most in Ewa Beach, who lost power early Friday morning after a powerful wind and rain storm swept over the island.

So maybe the only thing worse than a rain storm when all you want is a beach day is a rain storm in the dark. It took days to restore power, but not by those union workers–no, it was non-union workers and management that came in to help. I can’t imagine any of those 8,000 residents being very happy with the union over the weekend and with good cause. Electricity is a public utility. We pay for it, we expect our lights to turn on when we flick a switch. And we expect problems with electricity to be readily resolved. (I mean you can’t leave poke un-refrigerated long before your house will adopt the permeating smell of fish. And that smell is very hard to get rid of.)

Giving unions the power to throw temper tantrums (go on strike) at the expense of the public is an outrage. Imagine if we all decided we were going on strike from our jobs and didn’t show up to work, especially during an emergency situation. I’m guessing we’d all be fired. Imagine calling 911 to find out dispatch workers, doctors, and nurses are all on strike–and the utter chaos that would ensue.

Public utility workers should be banned from going on strike. Binding arbitration to ensure both sides play fair is one option–but no one wants sour milk.

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