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StarBulletin.com

Lingle asks for patience in union talks


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POSTED: Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gov. Linda Lingle is urging patience as the protracted labor talks with the four public worker unions continue.

In a meeting with reporters yesterday, Lingle said she had made a counteroffer to unions but would not give details.

“;One of the characteristics you need in these negotiations is a little bit of patience. Obviously there is a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty on the part of our employees and I regret it, but it is part of the process,”; Lingle said.

The governor said the negotiations are more complex than observers think because both she and the unions have to get approval from all their constituents before agreeing to a new contract.

“;We are waiting to hear back from the unions and I expect we will get back together early next week,”; Lingle said.

Lingle did explain yesterday that her lists of workers to be laid off are not based on seniority, although the end result of “;bumping rights”; is that those hired last would be the first to lose their jobs.

Lingle said while preparing the lists, she asked department directors to “;give us areas that we could reduce our force and still maintain the best possible service, rather (than) say who has been here the longest.”;

“;If you just go by seniority, it wouldn't keep your highest-quality public servants,”; Lingle said.

But she noted that laid-off workers have the right to take the job of someone in the same department or category who has less seniority.

“;It says that people who are able to bump, it must be based on seniority,”; Lingle said.

So the workers who have less seniority are in jeopardy of being bumped out of their jobs by more senior workers who have been laid off, Lingle explained.