HGEA reaches tentative agreement with state

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL)- After months of back and forth battle, The Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA) and the state finally agree to furloughs. A tentative two-year agreement was reached Wednesday afternoon. The proposed deal includes a 9% pay cut each year for more than 28,000 state workers. The contract must now be ratified by union members.

A matter of months ago, thousands crowded the state capitol to protest furloughs. But now, the conflict is closer to consensus and would help the state cut down it's nearly billion dollar deficit.With each side strategizing for the win, this battle was a lot like a game of blackjack.

HGEA and the state spent months at the bargaining table. The union took a stand saying no furloughs, anteing up for alternatives. After months with high stakes, HGEA finally agreed to take a hit.

"I'm very very glad they've reached some kind of agreement," said a state worker.

State workers worried about their job didn't want to show their face, but voiced frustration.

"I'm not happy, it's like cutting my own throat if I vote for the furloughs," said a state worker.

The proposed plan means 17 or 18 furlough days the first year and 24 the second year.

"It's going to hurt a lot of people you know financially wise," said a state worker.

The governor's office dealt a statement saying: "We believe this contract is in the best interest of the state and its employees and we hope the employees will ratify the contract."

deal comes a week after the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly rejected a 5% pay cut and a little less than a month after the Hawaii Teachers Association agreed to 24 furlough days spread across two years.

With the threat of losing their job to layoffs, state workers say they're actually relieved.

"I'll be grateful just getting up in the morning and going somewhere, which is work," said a state worker.

Now that the HGEA has finally folded to furloughs.

HGEA will hold statewide ratification meetings for three days beginning Thursday, October 15th through Monday, October 19th. Voting results are expected to be announced sometime that Monday night.