'Bumping' plans under way


POSTED: Sunday, August 16, 2009

United Public Workers members who received a layoff notice from the state walked out of union headquarters last week with “;reduction-in-force”; applications to begin the process of “;bumping”; junior members not on the governor's layoff list.

“;I don't want to bump anybody,”; said a 19-year paramedical assistant who declined to give her name out of concern for her job security. “;We want to keep our jobs.”;

More than 100 UPW members who received layoff notices attended the union's meeting on Friday, the first for potentially laid off employees on Oahu since the notices went out. UPW also held meetings for those on the layoff list on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island.

Gov. Linda Lingle sent layoff notices to about 1,200 state employees, notifying them they will lose their jobs in November if the state can't achieve furloughs to close the budget deficit.

Lingle wants to furlough state workers for three days a month, or a 14 percent pay cut, while unions have offered to accept one furlough day a month.

“;This union, state workers, are willing to do its share in bringing (down) the budget deficit, but not solely off of state workers,”; said Dayton Nakanelua, UPW state director.

He suggested the state use special funds such as the tobacco and hurricane funds to lessen the burden on state employees and urged the state to push for early retirement.

He said the governor would not be able to make significant cost savings through layoffs.

Some members expressed more confidence in their situation after attending the meeting.

Licensed practical nurse Burna Lam, who got a layoff notice, said, “;Our governor is not playing fair.

“;We didn't make this mess,”; said Lam, a state nurse for 26 years. The state wants to leave “;all that burden on us.”;

Lam and other coworkers decried the state for planning to lay off the entire support services staff on Oahu, a group of about 30 nurses who serve medically frail children in schools, and replace them with contracted nurses.

Dean Uwaine, a kitchen worker at the Hawaii State Hospital, said he believes the state is demanding too much from employees.

Despite the threat of being laid off, he opposed a 14 percent cut in addition to the extra $200 a month employees pay for medical benefits.

It's too much of a burden, he said.

Lingle has said the state must move forward with layoffs because it is a long process and the deficit continues to grow while there is no solution.