HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie announced that the state has reached a tentative agreement with Hawaii's largest public worker union. He said the deal with the Hawaii Government Employees Association would save the state about $65 million for fiscal year 2012 and $59 million for fiscal year 2013.
The proposed two-year contract includes a 5% reduction in base pay, but the deal would also end the two-day a month furloughs that resulted in a 10% cut in base pay under the current contract. The governor said he was pleased with the sacrifice and the restoration of public services.
"We don't want to have dengue fever coming up because we've laid off or furloughed vector control people. We don't want the coffee crops across the state to be destroyed because we don't have the agriculture inspectors," Abercrombie said.
The agreement also includes a 50/50 contribution for health care premiums. State and county governments pay the larger share of the 60/40 split under the current contract.
"The public employees are trying to set the standard by saying, 'Look, we understand. We're all in this,'" said Abercrombie.
The governor said he hopes that this deal will set the tone for other labor negotiations. At least one county mayor needs to approve the agreement. Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle said that during a discussion with the governor he was told of provisions he could not agree with, including additional paid time off for workers. Carlisle issued a statement that said, "The provisions that I could not agree with were not included in the Governor's press release. I need to find out in writing the truth and the whole truth about the provisions of the tentative agreement. Once we have received all of the provisions in writing, we will need to determine the financial impact on the City."
Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi said that he is still engaged in conversation with all of the parties involved. Maui County Mayor Alan Arakawa said he is unclear about parts of the deal and wants to meet with the governor and other mayors to discuss the details.
The HGEA will schedule a ratification vote for its more than 28,000 bargaining unit members.