No pay hike for a year
in Queen’s labor accord

By Mary Adamski

Blue-collar workers at Queen's Medical Center would get no pay increase in the first year of a three-year contract, and 2 percent pay raises in the succeeding years, if a settlement reached by negotiators is approved.

The strike notice called for tomorrow has been withdrawn, said Mel Kahele, president of Hawaii Teamsters Local 996, which represents about 650 workers.

"If this agreement is rejected, we will be walking out on strike," Kahele told a crowd of more than 200 union members last night. Ratification voting will be Dec. 18.

Kahele outlined key points of the proposal at the Kapalama meeting, which was scheduled as a strike-preparation session before negotiators reached agreement late Monday night.

He said the hospital management withdrew "take back" proposals in return for the union's agreement to forego an immediate wage increase.

In October, union members rejected a tentative agreement brought to them by the Teamsters negotiators which provided for a one-time $400-$500 bonus in the first year.

But the earlier settlement proposal also included some benefits reductions that have now been scratched, Kahele said. Company proposals that were dropped would have:

Doubled the employee share of the monthly medical insurance premium, now 10 percent or about $60 for family coverage.

Required a worker to take vacation or unpaid leave for the first two days he is off because of illness.

Reduced eligibility for overtime pay when there is less than 10 hours time elapsed between work shifts.

The union contract covers maintenance, food service, laundry and housekeeping workers, telephone operators and assistants in various professional services. The pay categories range from $8.50 to nearly $17 per hour.

"I'm not satisfied with no increase in the first year," said Elmer Laciste, an operating room assistant. "I expect the union dues to go up, why not my pay?"

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