Union members ratify new pact with state, counties - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Union members ratify new pact with state, counties

Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The United Public Workers union announced that one of its units, which represents 9,000 blue-collar workers, overwhelmingly approved a new contract agreement with the state and counties.

The UPW says 88 percent of those who voted ratified the agreement.

UPW's Unit One has a wide variety of workers, including refuse and sewer workers, school custodians, cafeteria workers, building custodians, painters and plumbers.

The contract approval came even though it included up to 37 furlough days over the next year and a half to help alleviate the state budget crisis. However, the furloughs ensured that there would be no layoffs, at least at the county level.

"What it means to us, and to me as the state director of this union, is jobs, jobs, jobs," UPW's Dayton Nakanelua said.

"Everybody's prepared," said UPW member Gwen Rowland, who voted to ratify the agreement.

"We've had warning before that to prepare for what's coming, and to save and not overspend. To live within our budget and be ready."

The four county mayors pledged not to lay off any UPW workers if the agreement was ratified.

"To have everyone to be able to participate and understand each other's positions and their financial positions I think is a great tribute to the membership, who does understand that their friends and neighbors and families are going through tough times too, and we all need to share," said Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares.

She joined mayors Bernard Carvalho of Kauai and Mufi Hannemann of Honolulu at the press conference where UPW state director Nakanelua announced the ratification results. Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi did not attend, but issued a joint statement with the other three mayors praising the ratification.

The mayors also say they will not use the 13 furlough days available for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30th. The agreement includes up to 24 furlough days for the next fiscal year.

Nakanelua says he hasn't heard from Gov. Linda Lingle on what the state will do, but expressed confidence that the state will follow the counties' lead.

The contract runs through June 2011.

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly