Three of four labor unions to meet with Lingle

Governor Linda Lingle
Governor Linda Lingle
Tracey Laride
Tracey Laride

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) has changed its mind and will send a representative to a scheduled meeting Tuesday at noon with the governor.

The union had earlier announced it wouldn't attend because a representative for United Public Workers is off island.  HGEA initially did not want to meet, unless all four unions were represented.   But now, the union is headed back to the bargaining table.

On Monday, the state handed over its "layoff list" of more than 1,100 employees to the unions. The state says each employee being laid off could receive a written notification later this month if a compromise isn't reached.

Layoffs or furloughs? It's the $786 million question that still hasn't been answered. Although a layoff list has been submitted to unions on Friday, Gov. Lingle remains hopeful.

"I'm going to keep focused on trying to resolve this through fair furlough plan," she said.

This uncertainty has state workers on edge.

"I think all of us are very scared basically and confused," said Tracey Laride, a state employee who works in the Department of Human Services.

The 1,100 people on the initial layoff list are employees whose jobs were not deemed part of the state's "core functions."

"Each department director did an analysis of their department, trying to maintain their core functions and trying to maintain the health and safety of their citizens of the state," said Lingle.

The unions offered a five percent pay cut last week, but the governor says that's not enough to close the budget gap.

"We know the economy is bad and I think a lot of us are willing to do our part, but I think they should talk together and settle it," said Laride.

The governor is hoping to meet with labor leaders Tuesday at noon to further discuss the options, but it doesn't seem likely.

"We got a call this morning at 11:30 from the HGEA office saying that they wouldn't be coming and they said that UPW would not be coming as well," said Lingle.

State workers hope both sides meet and agree to a compromise.

"I hope they can come to some sort of a resolution," said Laride. "I hope they talk."

"We've asked them to reconsider not sending someone and at least have a representative tomorrow," said Lingle.

Again, HGEA changed its mind Monday evening, and plans to attend the meeting with the governor at noon Tuesday.  Three of the four state unions are expected to be represented at that meeting.

The state has to give 90 days' notice for employees who are laid off, but it doesn't start until they receive individual notices which none of them have received yet.