Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Thursday, October 19, 2000

Hawaii State Seal

Cayetano: UHPA
talks hinge on
payroll lag

But the union director says
delayed paychecks, designed to
save the state $51 million, are
'illegal' and 'bad policy'

Hirono at odds with
gov on HGEA pay


By Crystal Kua

Gov. Ben Cayetano -- accusing the union representing 3,100 University of Hawaii faculty of playing "hardball" over delayed paychecks -- drew a line in the sand yesterday: no payroll lag, no collective-bargaining agreement.

"If the union were to acknowledge that the (payroll lag) law which was passed by the Legislature is something that they should abide by like all other state employees, then I think we can begin to move from ground zero to ground one or step one," Cayetano said.

University University of Hawaii Professional Assembly Executive Director J. N. Musto called Cayetano's position "illegal."

Payroll lag "is bad policy, poor accounting and unnecessary," Musto said.

The governor and the union have been involved in a verbal and legal war over the payroll-lag issue since the union went to court in 1998 to prevent the state from delaying paychecks.

The state imposed payroll lag to save $51 million by rolling paychecks into the next fiscal year. The law gradually moved paydays later each month.

The change also allowed the state to pay workers for work already done, rather than for work anticipated in the next pay period.

UHPA was the only public worker union to challenge the law.

Last week, UHPA won another court order preventing the state from imposing a payroll lag on university faculty. Circuit Judge Victoria Marks held the faculty union would likely succeed at trial

At the same time, the state and the union are in the midst of contract negotiations, which apparently aren't going well either.

UHPA says it's at an impasse with the state on negotiations and has begun a process that could lead to a strike early next year if no settlement is reached.

Cayetano told reporters that the union's leadership has been "stubborn" on the payroll lag.

"UHPA has played hardball with us on the payroll lag. Frankly, you know, I wonder whether sometimes these people can see the forest."

Musto said UHPA members continue to support the union instead of "simply rolling over and playing dead on the payroll lag."

Cayetano contends the payroll lag is not negotiable and the issue would likely be settled in court.

"Once that issue is resolved, then maybe we can seriously talk about the rest of the package, a contract that's going to help the university attract better faculty," Cayetano said.

"Such a raise, I think, is needed but we need to resolve that particular issue right now."

Musto said the union believes the payroll lag is subject to negotiations, but he said that if the governor really believes the issue is outside collective bargaining, "it is illegal for the governor ... to condition bargaining on subjects outside the scope of bargaining."

If the governor is acknowledging a problem in recruiting and retaining faculty, then that should be taken up separately, he said.

Meanwhile, in negotiations involving another faculty union, Cayetano said the state will be submitting a pay-raise proposal in bargaining with the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

The union was expecting such a proposal last week.

Hirono at odds with
gov on HGEA pay

By Richard Borreca

In a major break with Gov. Ben Cayetano, Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono said today she thinks the Hawaii Government Employees Association pay settlement is legal.

She stopped short of saying the contract should be paid, but said in a news release, "I disagree with Gov. Cayetano's unilateral position that the arbitrator's award in the HGEA negotiations is illegal, and note that Judge Sabrina McKenna has issued an order confirming the award."

The award will cost an estimated $200 million over a four-year contract.

A Cayetano spokeswoman said he didn't say the award was illegal. Also, Cayetano said the state "would bargain in good faith, but the unions need to realize that state finances cannot provide for across-the-board pay raises at the level they are asking for."

Cayetano has written to HGEA officials saying he and the attorney general considered the contract award void because the last session of the Legislature did not approve it and one Legislature could not require another Legislature to pay a salary increase.

Cayetano said he wanted to reopen negotiations with the HGEA, the state's largest union.

"Unions are looking at a January strike date," Hirono said. "A strike would entail tremendous hardships" for everyone, she said.

Hirono is a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2002.

State Web Site

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2000 Honolulu Star-Bulletin