HGEA deal struck


POSTED: Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hawaii's nearly 30,000 state and county workers represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association must now decide whether to accept a wage cut of up to 8 percent for the next two years.

The HGEA and officials of the state and counties yesterday announced that they have reached agreement on a contract that calls for a total of 42 furlough days between now and July 2011.

The wage cuts through the furloughs were called for because of the state's economy, which continues to weaken, and the expected economic troubles to the four counties will face next year.

The union is holding ratification meetings around the state and is expected to announce the results Monday evening. Executive Director Randy Perreira did not say whether he endorsed the tentative contract, but in a written statement said: “;It has been the intent of the HGEA and its negotiating team members to reach an agreement with the employers on a furlough plan that our members could review and vote on.”;

The alternative would have been to accept the binding results of a wage package designed by a neutral arbitrator, who was set to rule in late December.

;[Preview]  HGEA tentative agreement has members worried

The state's largest workers union reached a tentative agreement with the Lingle Administration that may leave members in financial hardship.

Watch ]


The HGEA represents county and state workers ranging from blue-collar supervisors, to high school principals and University of Hawaii non-professor employees, so there are differences in the individual contracts. 

County workers, for instance, will not be furloughed this fiscal year, but starting July 1 will take 24 furlough days, representing a 9.3 percent pay cut, according to the union.

For the more than 2,000 professional and technical employees in the UH system, the contract is also different and does not call for furloughs.

It calls for workers to take a 7.5 percent pay cut for the rest of this fiscal year, annualized at 5 percent and another 5 percent for the next fiscal year. The tentative contract also says the HGEA-represented UH workers will get an extra 13 days off with pay each year.





        Details of how the tentative agreement between the state and counties and the Hawaii Government Employees Association affects nearly 30,000 employees in various state and county areas.

Executive Branch, Department of Education, State Public Library System and State Judiciary
        » 18 furlough days for the fiscal year that ends June 30 (17 days for 10-month education employees). HGEA says this equals a 6.92 percent pay cut.
        » 24 furlough days in the fiscal year that starts July 1 and ends June 30, 2011 (17 days for 10-month education employees). HGEA says this equals a 9.23 percent pay cut


Hawaii Health System Corp. (state hospitals)
        » 5 percent pay cut retroactive to Oct. 1 through June 30, 2011.
        » Pay rate to be restored at end of contract.


University of Hawaii
        » 5 percent pay cut this fiscal year
        » 5 percent pay cut next fiscal year
        » Pay rate to be restored at end of contract
        » Leave with pay for 13 days, including the Friday after Thanksgiving, eight days during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, and four work days during spring break


County Employees
        » 0 furlough days this fiscal year
        » 24 furlough days next fiscal year. HGEA says this equals a 9.23 percent pay cut




None of the parties to the contract would discuss it yesterday, but those representing the counties and state all said it was the result of months of hard bargaining.

“;We believe this contract is in the best interest of the state and its employees and we hope the employees will ratify the contract,”; Gov. Linda Lingle said.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who had formed a coalition with the three other county mayors to bargain as a group with both the state and the union, said: “;We've been able to ensure we have an agreement conducive to our county-specific needs.”;

Maui's Mayor Charmaine Tavares noted that the negotiations have been hard for the workers.

“;This has been a difficult process for all parties concerned, particularly the employees who have had to live under a cloud of uncertainty for several months,”; Tavares said.

One area that is still uncertain and unresolved is the issue of the increased medical insurance payments for state workers.

In July, the rates were increased 23 percent. State workers were required to pay all of the increase, while county workers were given a slight break as the counties continued the policy of paying for 60 percent of the medical costs.

The union yesterday said the HGEA “;will pursue the issue ... in the 2010 Legislature”; with the hope of having the state pay more of the medical costs.

Lingle has said the state was not willing to pay more than it was required to pay previously.