State, labor leaders have 'productive' meeting - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

State, labor leaders have 'productive' meeting

Nicolas Au Nicolas Au
J.N.  Musto J.N. Musto
Marie Laderta Marie Laderta

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HAWAII STATE CAPITOL (KHNL) - Gov. Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii) and three of the four state labor union representatives met Tuesday to discuss how to resolve the furlough versus layoffs dilemma.

The leader for United Public Workers (UPW) is on the mainland and was not able to attend. The meeting started at about noon and ended just after one o'clock. State officials called the meeting "positive," and state workers hope both sides resolve the issue soon.

Nicolas Au and his co-workers are in charge of making sure the Capitol grounds are nicely manicured.

They're hoping they can continue doing their job.

"It's been kind of stressful the past few months just hoping that they work out, understanding that these are tough times for everybody," said Au.

Just inside, labor union officials and state negotiators walked into the governor's office, hopeful they could meet somewhere in the middle.

"Happy to be meeting," said Marie Laderta, the director of the state Dept. of Human Resources Development. "Thank you."

"I'm always optimistic. It needs to be, you need to be optimistic," said J.N. Musto, the representative for the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA). "I think there was a settlement that should have been reached a long time ago and I'm not sure why it hasn't, but you can't give up. It's the public's interest."

They met behind closed doors, discussing what's the best way to cut labor costs.

"It would be good if they could come to some sort of an agreement," said Au. "I understand that we all have to make sacrifices during these times and I'm totally fine with taking a furlough."

70 minutes later, the chief negotiator for the state emerged.

"It was time well spent. We had a very good meeting," said Laderta. "But of course we cannot talk about specifics, so we're standing by for the continuation of these negotiations but it was a very productive meeting today."

But some state workers are not convinced quite yet.

"It's kind of hard to say because we've been hearing that," said Au. "We heard that last week and it's kind of back and forth."

This state worker hopes both sides can agree on a furlough plan.

"At least everyone can keep their jobs and it would still be tough for a lot of people," said Au. "They have families and kids and stuff. At least we'll still be employed."

They're planning to meet again to further discuss negotiations when the representative for United Public Workers (UPW) comes back from the mainland. They have not agreed to a date and time just yet.

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