Most Union Paychecks Down Next Week; Some Will Rise

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Photo: Emily Metcalf

Next week, many Hawaii public workers will receive less take-home pay, but others will see unexpected, if temporary, increases.

Members of the largest group, the Hawaii Government Employees Association, negotiated a new contract with the state that calls for five per cent pay cuts and increases in health care premiums.


Governor Neil Abercrombie imposed similar cuts on the Hawaii State Teachers Association after his negotiators could not reach a deal with the union before the current contract expires this week.

Blue collar workers and prison guards represented by the United Public Workers union will actually see an unexpected increase in paychecks because their about-to-expire contract is subject to arbitration.

Until new terms are set, the governor said today, members will receive wages and benefits set at June 30, 2009 levels – before the first set of pay cuts and furlough days were instituted last year.

The same temporary increase is in store for nurses who are members of the HGEA but rejected the contract terms that were accepted by other HGEA units and are headed to arbitration.

The administration has indicated that it intends to recover any temporary increases paid to UPW members and nurses.

The governor said that he, members of his cabinet and other non-union administration executives are taking five per cent pay reductions and increasing their health insurance premium payments.

Then there are University of Hawaii professors, who took 5-6% pay cuts last year but resume full pay July 1 under a union contract that runs through 2014. The contract includes 3% pay raises in 2013 and 2014.

And the money that professors lost under last year’s temporary pay reduction will be restored to them in annual increments starting next year.

In a statement today, Abercrombie said the pay cuts for most union members have been dictated by the state’s “challenging fiscal times” and by the budget passed last month by the Legislature.

“This budget reflects the goal of shared sacrifice that we laid out in the very beginning of our administration,” said the governor.

“While some believe this is not enough and others feel it is too much,” Abercrombie said, “I believe these targets are a reasonable basis that recognizes the value of public employee efforts while living within our means.“