Labor relations board to issue binding written order

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -  One of the state's largest labor unions is close to resolving its dispute with the state.   The Hawaii Government Employees Association, or HGEA, and the Lingle administration, met with the Hawaii labor relations board.

It ordered the state to "meaningfully consult" with the HGEA, but the threat of layoffs still exists.

It's still a bit too early to tell what this means for HGEA members.  The labor relations board will issue a binding written order sometime next week. And whatever it dictates, both the state and the union have to abide by it.

Layoffs are still likely for about 1,100 state workers, but the state must let the unions know what factors are considered in laying people off.

Union officials say what came out of Thursday morning's meeting was that the labor board found the state violated the collective bargaining agreement, but neither the state nor the labor board would confirm that.

The state says layoffs are necessary to close the budget gap because the governor's furlough plan was blocked by the courts.   The proposed layoffs would save the state close to $900 million.

HGEA is one of three labor contracts the state is negotiating.  The other two are United Public Workers and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

This week, the state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association reached an agreement on a furlough plan.

Now the state, HGEA and the labor relations board will meet on October 6 to see if any progress has been made.  If the parties don't comply with the written order, further action could be taken by the board.