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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, February 24, 2010

UPW Unit 1 to get furloughs

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Dayton Nakanelua

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About 9,000 blue-collar government workers would get work furloughs amounting to an 8 percent or 9 percent pay cut under an agreement reached between United Public Workers Unit 1 and the four county mayors.

But union members would not get hit with any other wage reductions in the contract that runs until June 30, 2011, UPW state director Dayton Nakanelua said yesterday.

Only state workers in Unit 1 will be furloughed in the fiscal year that ends June 30, he said. But in the next fiscal year that begins July 1, state, city and county workers will face two furlough days a month, he said.

Twenty-four furlough days amount to an 8 percent or 9 percent pay cut, Nakanelua said.

The arrangement is similar to one worked out with members of the Hawai'i Government Employees Association.

The state's other public worker unions agreed earlier to pay cuts and furloughs to help reduce the state's budget deficit.

UPW Unit 10, primarily composed of state prison, health care and emergency workers, in January reached an arbitrated settlement with the state that included a 5.45 percent pay cut for some workers and furloughs for others.

"The agreement is fair and reasonable," Nakanelua said of the Unit 1 settlement proposal. "We've said since June that we want to be part of the solution to the budget crisis that the state is facing."

The tentative UPW agreement still needs to gain approval from Gov. Linda Lingle on behalf of the state before it can go to union members for a ratification vote. Lingle, who returned last night from a trip to Washington, has indicated she will sign.

In a one-sentence statement issued by the governor's office Monday, Lingle said: "We are glad to see the mayors have decided to agree to our proposal, and that the UPW is now on board."

"I'm not aware that was the governor's plan," Nakanelua said in response to Lingle's statement.

He said he wants to explain other details of the contract to his members before disclosing them publicly.

Officials from the county mayors' offices also declined to release details of the tentative settlement, citing the same reasons.

Nakanelua criticized Lingle for not playing a more active part in the negotiations, pointing out that talks had taken place only with county officials since the beginning of the year.

"The governor wasn't present during these negotiations, neither her nor her staff," Nakanelua said.

No deal could have been struck without the "integrity and credibility" of the four mayors, the union leader said.

The governor's office could not be reach for comment late yesterday to respond to Nakanelua's statements.