Thursday, June 21, 2001

Council delays action
on UPW compensation

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

Blue-collar city employees of the United Public Workers would get their raises under legislation approved yesterday by the City Council.

However, the legislation delays release of about $1 million to the union that is earmarked for its deferred-compensation plan, pending a ruling on whether the plan is legal.

UPW state Director Gary Rodrigues has threatened a statewide strike over the issue, arguing that the compensation plan was legally negotiated. Rejecting funding for the entire negotiated package, he said, would constitute rejection of the entire contract.

The city and other counties are questioning the plan on several fronts.

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board will meet tomorrow to begin looking into whether deferred compensation is a negotiable item.

Meanwhile, city Corporation Counsel David Arakawa said, the city will file suit in the coming weeks in Circuit Court asking whether state statutes allow for contributions to deferred-compensation plans outside the state Employees' Retirement System and their legality under the Internal Revenue Code.

Arakawa emphasized yesterday that both Mayor Jeremy Harris and the Council want the employees to receive the funding. The only issue, he said, is in what form that money will come.

"(They) would be willing to give it as bonuses if the court or the administrative bodies find the program is not legal," Arakawa said.

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