Mediator has unions, management bargaining


POSTED: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

With the help of federal mediator Ken Kawamoto, the four public employee unions and the state and counties bargained for four hours yesterday, but no agreements were reached.

Both the unions and management said more talks were planned this week.

While the talked were going on, the Hawaii Government Employees Association filed a motion in state court asking for an injunction to stop Gov. Linda Lingle from furloughing workers for three days a month.

Lingle is warning that 2,500 state workers will be laid off if she is unable to start furloughs next month.

Yesterday's bargaining session did not show anything positive except the fact that both sides were still talking.

“;The mere fact that we are still here and willing to meet again is worth noting,”; said Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director.

But his University of Hawaii Professional Assembly counterpart, J.N. Musto, said there was no movement at yesterday's sessions.

;[Preview]    State and Unions Meet Again to Solve Budget Crisis

The state negotiator says there is some progress in talks with four public-sector unions.

Watch ]


“;Personally, I don't have any reason for more optimism or pessimism. The fundamentals haven't changed,”; Musto said after the meeting.

The meetings were hosted by the Hawaii State Teachers Association at its Red Hill headquarters. Roger Takabayashi, HSTA president, remained critical of Lingle, saying the state will not budge.

“;The governor seems adamant on only one single plan—the furlough plan,”; said Takabayashi. “;She is not looking at taking the money from the Hurricane Relief Fund or the Rainy Day Fund or reviewing the budget ... to see if that could be tweaked.”;

Marie Laderta, state human resources director, who has been leading the talks for the state, said bargaining was helped by the federal mediator.

The unions and the employers have not yet held face-to-face meetings.

Kawamoto listens to proposals from both sides, then moves between the groups.

“;Thanks to the federal mediator, we have been able to get our message and proposals across,”; Laderta said. “;The federal mediator is an integral part of the process at this junction. There was a lot of mistrust and we are a lot closer then when we started.”;

The fourth union leader at the talks, Dayton Nakanelua of the United Public Workers, declined to comment.

Because of the state's budget shortfall, Lingle has said that starting July 1, state workers would have their pay cut by 13.8 percent and would be furloughed three days a month for the next two years.

Lingle cannot put workers attached to the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii on furloughs, but the governor said she would cut those departments' budgets to reflect a similar savings.