Dozens of state workers learn of potential layoff

Randy Perreira
Randy Perreira

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The fate of dozens of state jobs is at stake. Throughout the day Friday, the state identified a list of workers who could be laid off in as soon as 90 days beginning Monday.

The potential cutbacks are part of a move to make up a state budget shortfall, of $786 million.

The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) held an impromptu press conference Friday afternoon. State workers say they're in shock and while nothing is set in stone, the reality is at least dozens of state jobs may be doomed.

"Aloha this is Lillian Koller. Due to the financial situation...your name is on a RIF (reduction in force) list," said a recording of Human Services Director Lillian Koller.

It happened through shocking voice mails, short one-on-one meetings and through their inbox.

"People were afraid to look at their email blinking," said a state worker.

This state worker was in suspense until the bomb dropped.

"The email came through at 2:55pm on 7/17/09," said a state worker.

She was on a list of state employees that could be laid off.

"I was looking forward to spending the rest of my life with the state that's totally out of the question now," said the state worker.

Unions have strong words for the state.

"Shameless. Two words: no class. The governor's made a mockery of what otherwise should be a process between employer and employee," said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira.

Workers notified are in the Labor, Health, Agriculture, Economic Development and Human Services departments. HGEA leaders are livid.

"It's very clear that there's little intention to bargain in good faith," said Perreira.

Union leaders say directly telling state workers that they are on "Reduction in Force" list was improper.

The state says that's not the case. It believes it was appropriate to first inform the affected employees directly before simply putting their names on a list to the union.

HGEA says dozens of workers now potentially without a job only fuels the fire in the fight over how to deal with Hawaii's fiscal emergency.

"She's basically taking the position now saying well the unions forced me into it, that's bogus."

The state says it plans to notify unions Monday morning of which names are on the "RIF-list." That means the soonest employees can be laid off is 90 days from that point.