Honolulu public workers agree to two furlough Fridays each month
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer
Satellite city halls and many other city offices would be closed two Fridays a month beginning July 1 under a tentative agreement reached between the Hannemann administration and its two largest employee unions, according to documents obtained by The Advertiser.
There are 24 furlough days for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and nearly all of the approximately 10,000 city employees under the Hawaii Government Employees Association and United Public Workers contracts would be required to take the unpaid days off. An estimated $26 million in savings from the furlough are being used to help balance the city operating budget.
The one-day-per-pay-period furloughs would amount to a pay cut of between 8 and 9 percent for the workers.
A memorandum sent to key city officials last week by the Department of Human Resources said "most city offices will be closed to the public on 'Furlough Fridays' in accordance with the calendar."
Bill Brennan, spokesman for Mayor Mufi Hannemann, declined to answer questions about the plan. "It's premature to comment on the furlough plan," he said. "It's still a work in progress. Departments are still making revisions."
But HGEA executive director Randy Perreira said while some minor details have yet to be worked out, he does not expect the dates for furlough Fridays listed in the draft plan to change.
There are expected to be some exemptions, consisting primarily of police and fire dispatchers, lifeguards, police evidence specialists and others the city deemed as emergency, health and safety workers, Perreira said.
Those exempt from furlough days also would take a pay cut, although the amount is expected to be slightly less than the 8 to 9 percent faced by other city employees in acknowledgement that they will have to work more days than those on furloughs, he said.
Additionally, some employees would take alternate furlough days if their jobs require their presence on a furlough Friday, Perreira said. For instance, some parks employees may take a different day off if city officials choose to keep open certain youth programs on days when public school students are out because of furloughs.
"We're waiting for some clarification on what I'd call alternate scheduling because ... some of the furlough days are going to vary depending on how operations are structured," Perreira said.
"I don't see any major hangups and I anticipate we should be able to wrap this up fairly quick."
Personnel officials from various agencies were briefed on the draft plan on Friday afternoon.
Some dates match up with the state's designated furlough days, but not others. For instance, in September the city's draft plan calls for furlough days on the 3rd and 24th. The Department of Education's Web site lists the 17th and 24th as furlough days. UPW state director Dayton Nakanelua could not be reached for comment on Friday.