Gas workers strike leaves growing number of eateries in the lurch

Thursday marks one week since hundreds of union workers with Hawaii Gas went on strike.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 6:13 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 9, 2023 at 11:19 AM HST
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PUKALANI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thursday marks one week since hundreds of union workers with Hawaii Gas went on strike, and businesses say the work stoppage is causing a worrisome domino effect on the Neighbor Islands.

At Serpico’s Pizzeria Restaurant, the open sign was off Thursday and there is a sign on the door saying they are closed because they have no propane.

“Yesterday, right around noon, the store called and said, ‘Hey, Hatch, there’s no gas.’ So sure enough, we checked the gas tank, and it was empty, and we call up Hawaii Gas and the office said, ‘Oh, yeah, they’re on strike,” said Serpico’s Pizzeria Restaurant owner Charles Clarke.

Serpico’s Pizzeria Restaurant is a mom-and-pop shop in Pukalani known for their hand-crafted pizzas. But they need propane to cook.

And with more than 200 Hawaii Gas workers on strike, there is no telling when the next delivery of propane will be.

So, Clarke closed up shop on Wednesday and waited.

“We had a whole full staff here and we had to let them go,” Clarke said. “Then the night staff never was able to come in because there’s no gas. So, we were closed all day and as you can see, we’re still close today.”

Around 12:45 p.m. Thursday, a Hawaii Gas truck arrived.

Clarke says his small propane tank will only last about three days and he has no idea when they will be back.

“It’s stressful because we still have all the bills rolling in,” said Clarke. “But our main concern is all the people that work here, they don’t have any income coming in.”

Meanwhile, his other business — Prison Street Pizza, in Lahaina — is almost out of gas too. He says if a truck doesn’t come soon, he may have to shut that business down as early as Friday.

And the strike is not just impacting Clarke. Other restaurants, like at Manago Hotel on Hawaii Island, had to close up its shop as well.

Hawaii Gas is the state’s only gas utility and the state’s largest supplier of propane.

Members of Teamsters Local 996 say they are fighting for benefits — including retirement, medical and living wages.

Hawaii Gas said the union is demanding a nearly 30% salary increase over three years.

The union says considering inflation, they deserve it.

Hawaii Gas released a statement to the media on Thursday:

Hawaii Gas and the union are scheduled to be back at the bargaining table on Friday.

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