HGEA says deal
proves state can pay

A recent agreement with University of Hawaii professors disproves the state's claim that it cannot afford pay raises for Hawaii Government Employees Association members, a top official from the union said.

Under a deal reached Thursday with the UH Professional Assembly, professors would get a 31 percent pay increase over six years. The salary hikes will cost the state $124 million over the deal's term.

In a statement released yesterday, HGEA Deputy Executive Director Randy Perreira said "$124 million certainly proves the state has the ability to pay,"

A decision on pay raises for HGEA's 23,000 members is expected tomorrow from a three-person arbitration panel.

The union is seeking a two-year contract with 4 percent pay hikes in each year and step increases, while the state offered no pay increase in the first year and a 1 percent increase in the second year.

Earlier this week, Gov. Linda Lingle defended the large salary hikes for professors compared to those offered to other unions.

"This particular union, UHPA, should be seen in a different light than the others," Lingle said. "They educate the people who are going to be the entrepreneurs, and the technical people and the doctors and the lawyers ... so they have a critical role in economic development."

Perreira, though, said "It is unfair for the governor to portray HGEA members as not as deserving as those in other bargaining units."

"Our members," he continued, "are critical to the delivery of government services."


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