Furlough ruling favors unions - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Furlough ruling favors unions

Governor Linda Lingle Governor Linda Lingle
Randy Perreira Randy Perreira
House Minority Leader Rep. Lynn Finnegan House Minority Leader Rep. Lynn Finnegan

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL)- With a $730 million budget shortfall, the question is how will Governor Linda Lingle come up with the cash? This has become one big fiscal fight.

The govenor gave the initial blow by ordering furloughs. Thursday, unions struck back with a court decision in their favor.

"This is not something I want to do, it's something I have to do," said Governor Linda Lingle.

"It would be very unfortunate if the Governor would use threats and intimidation," said Hawaii Government Employees Association Executive Director Randy Perreira.

The Salle Honolulu Fencing Club puts the proposed state worker cuts into perspective. Round one- Governor Linda Lingle. Round two to state unions.

"The ruling doesn't solve the problem we all face," said Perreira.

"The bottom line is furloughs or layoffs," said House Minority Leader Rep. Lynn Finnegan

The debate draws deadlock. Republican leaders say it would take six months to a year before the state would see any savings from layoffs, but the financial impact of furlough would be immediate.

"The more we put it off in the future, the harder the cuts will be," said Finnegan.

Drawing strength from the court's decision, unions "en-guard" offense. They say the ruling affirms their rights.

"We're prepared to bargain, we're prepared to come to an agreement," said Perreira.

Lingle's proposed furloughs equal to about 15% in salary loss and another 5% in medical premium costs. The injunction strikes the plan down for now, but republicans say it's no victory.

"No one really wins. If we don't start making strides in closing the budget gap, we're looking at more unemployed," said Finnegan.

The back and forth battle comes to a halt for now, but this state and union worker friction over finances is far from over.

Union leaders say they'll seek another meeting with a federal mediator to try and reach a new labor agreement with the state. The governor has said in the past if her furloughs are blocked, she may have no choice but to lay off at least 10,000 state workers.

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