Hawaii Government Employees’ Association: 6 of 7 Units Ratify Contract, Nurses Reject Deal

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BY HGEA – Six of seven Hawaii Government Employees Association bargaining units have voted to ratify a new two-year contract, covering the period of July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013.

The following bargaining units ratified their contract:

  • Unit 2, blue-collar supervisory employees: 192 accept; 156 reject
  • Unit 3, white-collar non-supervisory employees: 4,618 accept; 3,151 reject
  • Unit 4, white-collar supervisory employees: 248 accept; 184 reject
  • Unit 6, educational officers: 171 accept; 65 reject
  • Unit 8, administrative, professional and technical University of Hawaii employees: 713 accept; 329 reject
  • Unit 13, professional and scientific employees: 2,935 accept; 1,492 reject

Unit 9 members voted to reject their contract:

Unit 9, registered professional nurses: 392 accept; 509 reject
A detailed breakdown of votes cast will be sent via eBulletin and posted on the HGEA website tomorrow, April 26, after “challenged” ballots are verified. (The number of challenged ballots will not change the final vote results.)

HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira said, “These agreements were difficult for our members in Units 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 13 to accept, given that for the past two years, they have been doing ‘their share’ by enduring significant cuts in pay, as well as working in environments with reduced staffing and resources. It is clear that government employees have been sharing much of the load of balancing the state’s budget, and they are frustrated that little seems to have been done to ensure that our state budget will be solidly balanced with sufficient revenue to provide for government operations.

“A significant number of Unit 9 members are unhappy with the tentative agreement reached with their employers and have voted not to accept the contract. This is a clear reflection of the fact that wages for registered nurses in the public hospital system are woefully behind the private sector, and our public hospitals — which provide the bulk of acute care services on the neighbor islands — is simply not in a competitive situation with private facilities. It is our hope that as we return to the bargaining table, the State Administration and Hawaii Health Systems Corporation take a realistic approach to bargaining a fair agreement with their nurses, or risk losing more staff because of the pay gap they are enduring.”

Ratification meetings were held at various sites statewide April 18-21 and April 25.

Governor Neil Abercrombie issued this statement: “Without accusations and confrontation, the state and six of the seven bargaining units of the Hawai’i Government Employees Association have come to an agreement that brings an end to Furlough Fridays and produces the savings needed to help balance the budget in our financial plan,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

“HGEA members have families and pay taxes like the rest of us.  Over the years, they have carried a heavy burden in increasingly difficult work conditions.  But HGEA members want to move Hawai’i forward as we all do.  Throughout Hawai’i, people are ready to follow their example — to attack our problems instead of attacking each other.”