Friday, February 12, 1999

Hawaii State Seal

Unions: Civil
service reform bill
not needed

But Gary Rodrigues says
they support the effort to change
the current system

Legislature Directory

By Rob Perez


Pledges were made this morning by public-worker unions and the state administration to begin looking at ways to reform Hawaii's decades-old civil service system.

But the parties couldn't agree on whether a bill was needed to get the process started.

1999 Hawaii State Legislature During a House labor committee hearing this morning, representatives from several unions and the Cayetano administration said they were eager to begin discussions -- some already have started -- on possible reforms.

But Gary Rodrigues, head of the United Public Workers, said they didn't need a bill to do that.

The committee was taking testimony on two measures designed to start the reform process. Parts of the state's civil service and collective bargaining systems have been criticized as contributing to inefficient government.

An administration-backed measure includes a provision that would repeal the civil service laws in June 2000.

It is seen by the administration as a way to ensure replacement laws are adopted before then.

Mike McCartney, Cayetano's personnel director, said a bill was needed to show the public that action will be taken.

"I don't want to submit another study," he told legislators.

After Rodrigues and other union representatives said they would support reform reviews, Rep. Nobu Yonamine, a past labor committee chairman, expressed surprise.

"You have fought us tooth and nail on every civil service reform" proposal in the past, Yonamine said.

But Rodrigues called the past efforts "potshots," not reform.

He likened it to someone taking a nut off a wheel and not replacing it.

"Eventually we would die in a crash," Rodrigues said.

Rep. Terry Yoshinaga, chairwoman of the labor panel, said she is hopeful the committee will pass a reform bill next week.

State of the Unions

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