Will the HGEA contract set the standard?

It’s hard to say for sure without seeing the fine print, but the tentative agreement between the state and the Hawaii Government Employees Association announced yesterday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie seems a fair contribution by state and county workers toward reducing the state’s $1.3 billion deficit.

Basically, the 28,000 active white-collar workers represented by HGEA would swap their current deal of two furlough Fridays a month — the equivalent of about an 8-percent pay cut — for a straight 5-percent pay cut and six hours of personal time off a month. Workers would also pay 10 percent more of their health care premiums than they currently do.

The end of the disruptive furlough days that close state offices is welcome; the personal time off can be scheduled when mutually convenient and is far easier to manage without disrupting services.

The governor’s office said the deal saves the state about $65 million next fiscal year and $59 million the following year. If similar agreements are reached with other government unions it would increase the savings accordingly.

Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and some legislators raised concerns that the savings weren’t enough, but it’s what Abercrombie said he was shooting for all along and a substantial bite out of public worker pay checks — within the ballpark of what workers in the private sector are facing.

The governor needs at least one county mayor to go along to enact the deal, and presumably he wouldn’t have announced it if he didn’t have one. Hopefully, more details will be released as that is sorted out so we can more fully evaluate the fairness of the contract to workers and taxpayers.

The HGEA contract usually sets the rough terms for blue-collar workers represented by the United Public Workers.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which can’t seem to settle contracts anymore without a lot of drama, could be trickier, and President M.R.C. Greenwood at the University of Hawaii could find herself in a pickle with a six-year faculty contract she agreed to that requires UH to soon repay professors for the labor savings of the last two years and give them raises in the final two years.

Greenwood was betting that the economy would bounce back and it hasn’t happened. She won’t find it easy to get cash-strapped legislators to give the semi-autonomous university general fund money to pay for her promises.

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10 Comments on “Will the HGEA contract set the standard?”

  1. Rob Says:

    regarding the HGEA deal, the union got the sweet end of the deal, hands down. And the Governor just kicked the can down the road again, although he won’t admit it. Here’s why:

    Vacation time isn’t free. Consider it the working man’s equivalent of Stock Options. They can spend it now or save them and spend them later when they are worth more. Assuming a twenty day work month, 5% pay is equal to 8 hours of work. So trading a 5% pay decrease for 6 hours of vacation time/options is somewhat equal, slightly favoring the gov’t. Except that worker’s can hold onto these hours for years and cash them in at the end of their career when their per hour pay rate is at a premium. And at which time our gov’t will have to come up with the money to pay them. It’s a pay me now or pay me later situation to the max, and we just decided to pay them later. Good work on the union’s behalf… but i think tax payers were hoping for some real, honest, savings vice a shallow smoke screen that the HGEA has now down their part…

  2. Richard Gozinya Says:

    In light of the severe challenges facing our economy, this looks like a big win for the HGEA.

    I’m surprised that no consideration was given (afaik)to correlating the contract terms to the condition of the economy.

    Once again we could end up with a deteriorating economic situation and watching the private sector make the cuts and terminate the jobs whilst the HGEA members enjoy their extra days off with excellent security, a sweet deal on health insurance premiums and only the smallest of pay reduction.

    Shared sacrifice? Doesn’t feel that way to me.

  3. David Shapiro Says:

    I haven’t seen the details, but my understanding is that the comp hours must be used within the two year term of the contract. If that’s not the case, I would agree with you.

  4. ppcc Says:

    “Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle and some legislators raised concerns that the savings weren’t enough”

    If that is not enough savings from government workers then Carlisle and legislators can stop WASTING taxpayer dollars trying to perform an unwarranted elevated rail colonoscopy on all Hawaii taxpayers. Legislators need to do the RIGHT thing and just redirect the .5% GET currently taken for rail and use the money to pay down the current State gov’t debt. After the Nestor Garcia scandal of ignoring MANDATORY disclosure rules for any conflicts of interest as a city councilman and the City bidding fiasco of choosing Ansaldo over Bombardier, Sumitomo which will result in formal protests, in ADDITION to the lawsuits filed by the famed environmental lawyer Yost on behalf of Cayetano, Slater, and other groups AND mostly likely an appeal by the Hawaiian group regarding the issue of the City not performing an assessment for ancient Hawaiian remains in the downtown/ Kakaako area prior to beginning construction; it is clear the rail will DIE. State legislators need to do what is right for the State of Hawaii and shift rail’s .5% GET funding source NOW to much more meaningful purposes.

  5. ppcc Says:

    Forgot to add there is NO WAY with Obama trying to get re-elected in 2012 and Republicans in control of the House, will Hawaii get anywhere near the $1.5 billion PROMISED by Mufi, Hamayasu and Carlisle. Also with Obama’s close friend Titcomb getting arrested for allegedly trying to hire a prostitute, Obama will steer clear AWAY from anything related to Hawaii, whether it is his Hawaii birth certificate, any of his old Hawaii friends who frequent prostitutes OR a $8++ BILLION Aloha train to nowhere.

  6. ppcc Says:

    I wrote this in the Star Ad forum:

    After reading everyone’s posts, I think the CORRECT strategy that is best for HGEA union members would have been for HGEA leadership NOT to settle first prior to other unions such as UPW, HSTA, etc. Why did HGEA leaders have to settle so quickly? When Abercrombie and his negotiators asked for a quick settlement, why were HGEA union leaders so quick to settle? A 5% pay cut is a 5% pay cut regardless of the personal time off day. Holding out longer would have forced Abercrombie and the State legislators to look at cutting other expenses, INCLUDING re directing the .5% rail GET back to the State. By quickly settling to supposedly save the state about $60 million per year only ENCOURAGES Abercrombie, Carlisle, and State Legislators to continue to fund Rail, pet projects such as some ocean cooled office buildings at taxpayer’s expense, give MORE money to the DOE, UH WITHOUT cutting out the waste, graft and corruption occurring in our educational system, etc.

    Seems best if HGEA members vote “NO” and hope union leaders don’t use “fuzzy math” to count the votes. Maybe gov’t employees need to share in the sacrifice, HOWEVER if HGEA union leaders make it so easy for the governor and State legislatures in give backs they will be MORE LIKELY to continue on with wasteful and unnecessary gov’t spending on BS “pet projects” like the rail.

  7. Guido Sarducci Says:

    From KHON:

    The tentative agreement with the Hawaii Government Employees Association announced Wednesday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie includes a “favored nation” clause that allows the union to amend the contract if another union gets a better deal…. Honolulu Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, District 5, expressed concern the “favored nation” clause included in the HGEA proposal would add a cloud of uncertainty to ongoing budget talks.

    “It makes it a little tricky cause then you’re really not sure until the other unions settle,” she said. “What if someone gets an increase? Even if it’s one percent, that’s a big difference.”

    The extra time off would amount to nine “paid” days per year in addition to the 21 vacation and 21 sick days HGEA members currently earn. Carlisle said the proposed deal actually amounted to a 1.5 percent increase in labor costs when taking the added time off into account. “I can’t imagine how people would view workers going from twenty-one vacation days to thirty,” said the mayor.
    Khon2 learned that neither Carlisle nor Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa supported Abercrombie in voting for the HGEA agreement.


  8. ppcc Says:

    The favored nation clause changes everything however it is questionable whether the agreement with HGEA will cost the State more. Someone else wrote that furloughs did not reduce calculatiions for retirement however a straight wage reduction will. I still think regardless of the 6hrs of personal time off, the State will save money, just not as much with the current furlough of State workers. At this point in time Carlisle has ZERO credibility with budgetary issues and just the fact that Carlisle is against the agreement would be reason enough for the majority of HGEA rank and file to vote ‘yes’

  9. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    PPPC – you claim that you know the difference between capital and operating budgets, but you certainly don’t demonstrate that knowledge. The mass transit system construction will be paid out of long-term bonds and grants whereas the salaries and services come from the yearly taxes. We cannot move the money from one column – or pocket – to the other.

    Do you not get it that the world, not just you and I, cannot continue to live on fossil fuels? Mass transit powered by electricity gnerated from bio-diesel or wind or solar will move many, more people more cheaply and effectively and with far fewer greenhouse gases pouring into the atmosphere than putting the same number of people into individual petroleum-guzzling cars & trucks.

    For those of you who read these blogs, I strongly irge that you read Robert Reich’s latest book, AFTER-SHOCK: The Next Economy and American’s Future. He explains clearly and carefully with citations as to what the role of government is in defining how we live, work & play from an economist’s perspective.

  10. Michael Says:

    Both Carlisle and Arakawa won as republicans. Going against Democrat Governor Abercrombie will be a big mistakes when they need help. It should not matter what party each is under but what is best for the people after being elected.

    Mad Max Thunderdrone, where they manufactured methane from live pigs. In Malaysia they have such a pig farm. It smells. Recycle water and waste to feed the pigs.

    Rail will be run by wind and hot air. Called Trade and Kona winds. All the rail needs now is a sail. Solar panels will still require batteries. Lead and acid will leave the lands toxic.

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