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Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Hawaii State Seal

Cayetano plans veto of HGEA pay raise

An arbitration panel awarded
the state-employee wage
increase in May

By Richard Borreca

Gov. Ben Cayetano said today that he will veto a Hawaii Government Employees Association pay raise arbitrated earlier this year.

In a meeting with reporters, Cayetano said he considered the pay raise issue dead because the last session of the Legislature failed to approve it.

Cayetano's policy is critical, because the United Public Workers union approved a strike vote yesterday, saying it wanted a pay raise equal to the HGEA's 15 percent.

An arbitration panel awarded the pay raise in May, but Cayetano said the state could not afford it. The 2000 legislative session failed to fund the pay raise, but the legislative leaders this summer promised the HGEA that they will take it up early in the 2001 session.

"Our position on the HGEA arbitration award is that it is not legal," Cayetano said.

"Should the Legislature fund such an award, our position would be that it is illegal because it is not before the common Legislature at all.

"There is no way to get it to them -- I submitted it to the previous Legislature, not this Legislature," Cayetano said.

"It is our position that there is no package to fund. Should the Legislature go ahead and try to fund it, then I have to exercise my authority as governor to veto it, because our position is that it is not lawful.

"You can't bind future Legislatures to collective bargaining that you put up today," he said.

"You can award a four-year contract that looks back, but you cannot award one that is prospective, that looks forward," he said.

The arbitrated HGEA settlement is for four years. It includes no raises for the first two years and raises of 15 percent in the last two years.

At the same time, Cayetano said he is "very concerned" about the UPW strike vote. The blue-collar UPW workers handle sanitation, janitorial duties, prison work and also school cafeterias.

"I've been talking to Gary Rodrigues to see if we can reach some sort of an agreement, because the revenues have improved," Cayetano said.

"It has been our position that we could not fund across-the-board awards such as were given to the HGEA. There is room for discussion for a salary increase for all workers -- but not at that level," he said. Cayetano said that since the last state revenue projection, the state has believed it could afford a pay raise, but not the 15 percent award granted to the HGEA.

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