Employees say state airports division is dysfunctional - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Employees say state airports division is dysfunctional

DOT Airports Division DOT Airports Division
Jennie Wolfe Jennie Wolfe
Donna Jinbo Donna Jinbo
Donna Mercado-Kim Donna Mercado-Kim

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Earlier today there was a confidential meeting within the Department of Transportation regarding employee and management disagreements.  The previous issues escalated to where these two women filed a lawsuit against the airport personnel manager.

"She can't come off and talk to you nicely. She's either demanding or she's raising her voice at you," said Jennie Wolfe, Airport Division Personnel Division Office Assistant, who has worked for the state twenty years.

"It is a very tense hostile atmosphere," said Donna Jinbo, Airport Division Personnel Clerk, who has 25 years experience with the state.

The women say it got so bad they filed for restraining orders and the office had to be sectioned off.  They even separated which women's restrooms each side could be use so there wouldn't be a chance encounter.  That still didn't work and the women have been on leave since April citing emotional distress from verbal abuse.

"We want to be able to go back to work in a place we're not going to be attacked verbally every time we turn around and at this point we need some compensation for all the stress we've been through the past five years with her there," said Jinbo.

HawaiiNewsNow tried to speak with the manager in question to get her side of the story but instead we were referred to the department's spokesperson. 

The spokesperson could only say the Department of Transportation is working to make the situation better and actively taking steps to ensure the personnel office is fully functioning and fully staffed.

The airports division has gone through turbulent times.  In August Deputy Director Brian Sekiguchi abruptly resigned after ethical questions surfaced.  There's also an investigation of an employee at the Lihue Airport embezzling thousands of dollars and various other issues prompting investigations by the state senate.

"It's like the tip of the iceberg.  There's just so much there and I don't go a day without getting an email from an employee or from someone citing some other problem or other issue," said Donna Mercado-Kim, State Senator who has taken the lead on the investigations.

Governor-Elect Neil Abercrombie could appoint a new transportation director and the employees in this lawsuit hope that person is able to get the department moving in the right direction.

"We no longer can have incompetent managers which is basically what we had which is what led to this problem," said Wolfe.

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