A look at the state of collective bargaining in Hawaii tells us theres a chance there might be a public worker strike or two on the immediate horizon, but it tells us a lot more than that.
It tells us that the bargaining process, from the standpoint of the taxpayers, is almost completely out of control.
If you look at the recommendations of arbitrators in behalf of unions like the Hawaii Government Employees Association, it becomes clear that we, and the governor operating on our behalf, have no discretion when it comes to prioritizing pay incentives to public workers. The state apparently is obligated to give more to HGEA workers than the governor thinks it can give public school teachers and the university faculty.
Yet it seems clear that the public and lawmakers want those priorities exactly reversed. It is time for state government to seize back a modicum of control here. There is no magic in parity between unions, between units and between state and county workers.
Lawmakers must address this burning issue in the context of civil service reform in this session.