No gains in labor dialogue


POSTED: Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nearly an hour of talks yesterday between three of the four public worker unions and the state government failed to end Hawaii's labor stalemate.

Neither Gov. Linda Lingle nor union representatives, who left by taking a private elevator from the Governor's Office at the state Capitol, commented immediately after the meeting, but Marie Laderta, state human resources director, described the talks as “;productive.”;

“;It was a very productive meeting, and substantive discussion did occur. We are very pleased. We are standing by for the continuation of these negotiations,”; Laderta said.

Leaders of the white-collar employees, teachers and university unions attended the meeting, but representatives of the blue-collar union, the United Public Workers, were unavailable.

Lingle had said Monday that she planned to present a counteroffer to the unions' informal offer of a 5 percent pay cut.

Lingle has rejected that offer, saying it would not address the state's $786 million projected two-year shortfall.

The gamesmanship in the negotiations is evident. The unions' 5 percent offer was the same as the pay cut Lingle and legislators and judges took earlier in the year, but Lingle has raised the ante by saying she would add two furlough days to the 5 percent pay cut, amounting to roughly the same 14 percent pay cut Lingle is asking from state workers.

;[Preview]    Lingle and Unions Meet Again

The governor met with state public labor unions, but talks ended without a deal over how much of a pay cut workers should take to solve the state's budget shortfall.

Watch ]


J.N. Musto, executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, reported after the meeting that “;everybody agreed to say nothing (to the news media).”;

Earlier in the day, UH President David McClain said an arbitrator had upheld UHPA's grievance that the union's contract was still in force past its expiration date.

The union's contract specifically says the contract remains in force as long as labor talks are continuing.

“;The contract is still in force,”; McClain said.