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State department chiefs working out details for employees' forced days off


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POSTED: Thursday, June 04, 2009

State department heads still are working out details but expect to have furlough plans ready to go by the proposed July 1 implementation date, a spokesman for Gov. Linda Lingle said.

Lingle has proposed three furlough days a month—unpaid days off—for state workers to help make up a $730 million budget deficit.

“;Each one's going to be different,”; spokesman Russell Pang said of the plans being formulated by the individual state agencies. “;They all have different needs and requirements.”;

For example, he said, the Department of Land and Natural Resources “;is very different from some of the other departments. They have to be on call—especially their enforcement people. There are certain days that they cannot take off.”;

The planned furloughs amount to a roughly 14 percent pay cut and would affect 14,500 state workers. Part-time workers, including state legislators, are not affected by the plan.

Still at issue is whether the furloughs are legal.

Lingle insists the state has the right to take the action, while union leaders say the governor may not unilaterally impose such conditions without first negotiating the changes with the union. Labor lawyers say the matter could wind up in court.

Meanwhile, the administration is proceeding and expects to have the furlough plans in place by the governor's deadline, Pang said.

“;Right now (department heads) are still going through and talking with the employees to find out what will best work for them to ensure they can continue to provide services,”; he said.

Lingle also has said she would not take any days off but instead take the cut in her annual salary equivalent to the three furlough days. It will be up to individual directors to decide whether they will follow suit.

“;However,”; Pang said, “;knowing our directors and seeing the long hours they currently put in, I'm sure they will continue to dedicate whatever time is needed to ensure their departments operate efficiently and with minimal disruption to public services.”;

Mayor Mufi Hannemann, in his State of the City address, said he and his city department heads would work one day a month without pay—the equivalent of a 5 percent pay cut.