State & HGEA close to contract settlement

Governor Linda Lingle
Governor Linda Lingle
Randy Perreira
Randy Perreira

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It appears the State is very close to finally reaching a deal with the Hawaii Government Employees Association, or HGEA.

But any agreement on a new contract needs to be first approved by at least one county Mayor.

Continued contract negotiations between the State and HGEA are proving to be productive, as both sides have acknowledged that a tentative agreement is not far away.

"Our efforts will try to bring it to a quick wrap up so we can within a very short period of time begin that process for our employees to get the information and vote on it", said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira.

Both sides have agreed on the concept of furloughs, but it is still not clear how many furloughs days are in the works.

"I think the sacrifice our employees will make or will contemplate making subject to ratification would be very substantive in terms of addressing the budget situation, but I don't think it solves all the problems", said Perreira.

When asked if layoffs could be avoided with a settlement between the two parties, Lingle answered, "it would mean that future layoffs would not have to be as severe because we've had labor savings from furlough days."

Despite the progress made, there is still a hang-up in negotiations

"I think now it's really down to one other issue which I don't want to discuss right now", said Lingle.

"Realistically we believe that in times like this where our employees are being called upon to make a sacrifice of their pay, it should not be done by an arbitration panel", said Perreira.

But even though both parties may agree to the terms of a settlement, it still needs a final nod from at least one Mayor.

"I think it's an appropriate time to get the mayors on board and they need to make a decision", said Lingle.

But that may take some time, as three out of the four county Mayors are on the mainland attending a conference.

Once that hurdle is cleared, the agreement will go to HGEA members for a ratification vote.