Union offers state pay freeze proposal


POSTED: Thursday, August 13, 2009

At least one of the Hawaii Government Employees Association bargaining units is asking for no salary raises or pay grade increases during a new contract.

But the state administration is seeking 14 percent cuts achieved through job furloughs.

Tuesday was the deadline for the HGEA and administration to submit their proposals to an arbitration panel. If an agreement cannot be reached, the matter would go to arbitration in September, meaning a neutral party would decide on a new contract for HGEA employees.

Both sides would be bound by the decision, which is expected by December.

;[Preview]  HGEA reactions to furloughs

HGEA members reaction to the union's final written offer to the arbitrator.

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;[Preview]  Union proposal final offer update

A new working contract for the state's largest government union will be decided by an arbitration panel.

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;[Preview]  Recent history of union raises

Public employee unions in Hawaii facing pay cuts and furloughs have gotten larger raises over the last four years, and after investigating the results may surprise you.

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The union asked that professional and scientific employees of Unit 13 continue to accumulate service toward seniority if no pay grade increases were allowed. Also, the union is requesting that a supplemental agreement must be negotiated to carry out furloughs.

HGEA included a proposal for a 32-hour workweek, but a spokeswoman said the proposal was made early in the bargaining process and “;in all likelihood, this proposal will be removed prior to arbitration.”;

The state is proposing that state workers take a 14 percent pay cut though furloughs, put in overtime restrictions and reduce sick leave benefits.

Yesterday, Georgina Kawamura, state budget director, warned that although the state has been able to end the fiscal year with an $8 million balance, the state needs to cut the existing $10.4 billion general fund budget by $658.9 million over the next two years to avoid running out of money.

“;I hate doing this, but when you have the reality of no money, what are you going to do? “;Kawamura told a joint hearing of the House and Senate finance committees yesterday.

Needed budget cuts already identified include $62 million in construction projects for educational facilities, $12.6 million in specific appropriations and $42 million in Medicaid benefits, Kawamura said.

If Hawaii's economy continues to falter, Kawamura warned that in fiscal 2011-13 the state will need to cut an additional $500 million from the budget.

At the same time, legislators said yesterday the Lingle administration is making a mistake by aiming at getting most of their budget savings through labor union pay and benefit cuts.

“;It is a dangerous assumption. We need to look at all options,”; said Rep Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Committee chairman.

“;We are beginning to look at where we can cut back on certain projects, where we can reduce some services or where we can find funds for services,”; Oshiro said.