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Sunday, July 3, 2011
Four of a Kind: UPW, UHPA get big Fat Pay Raise—and HSTA suit could give one to HGEA
By Andrew Walden @ 11:52 PM :: 13304 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment

by Andrew Walden

Behind an Abercrombie administration smokescreen of empty talk about “shared sacrifice” and 5% pay cuts, the UHPA and UPW both received a bag fat pay raise July 1.

The Star-Advertiser reports:

With the start of a new fiscal year last Friday, UHPA members are two years into a unprecedented second six-year contract, The latest deal started back in July of 2009 with salaries reduced by 6.7 percent. Salaries went back up to 2009 rates on Friday and the state is required to start paying back the pay cut and also start the process of giving profs a 3 percent raise.

UPW members are being richly rewarded for stalling negotiations.  While the HSTA has seen the State impose its “last, best, and final” offer—a 5% pay cut and 50-50 on health insurance, the UPW is simply reverting back to the 2009 pre-furlough contract.  Civil Beat, June 29 explains:  

Come Friday, some state and county government workers could see their salaries revert to pre-furlough levels if new labor contracts aren't in place….

Existing contracts expire Thursday for thousands of members of the United Public Workers union, Hawaii State Teachers Association and professional nurses represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association. The furlough days agreed to in those contracts are equivalent to about an 8 percent pay cut.

This means that the end to furloughs brings an effective 8% pay hike for the UPW.  And just for kicks, the UPW stalled negotiations long enough to get in one more furlough day—and made it into a paid day off.  The Star-Advertiser July 2 reports:

The city's six refuse convenience centers were closed Friday because workers thought they were supposed to be on furlough, a city spokeswoman said.

Negotiators for the city and the United Public Workers agreed Thursday night to extend existing wages and benefits but to end two years of Furlough Fridays while negotiations for a new contract continue.

However, the agreement came too late to notify some members of UPW's Unit 1 who work for the city and were already scheduled to be on furlough.…

(City spokesperson Louise Kim) McCoy said there may have been other city employees who did not show up for work, but did not have a count.

About 1,780 Unit 1 workers are assigned to four city agencies — Environmental Services, Parks and Recreation, Facility Management and the Board of Water Supply — but they were on a staggered furlough schedule and not all of them were supposed to be off duty at the same time, McCoy said.

Workers who did not report to work will be given administrative leave with pay, she said.

Now, dear reader, consider the following:

  • When HGEA settled in early April, its contract included a “most favored nation” clause guaranteeing the HGEA contract would be automatically amended to match the best contract negotiated by UPW or HSTA.  This information became public only because an anonymous source leaked a copy of the HGEA settlement agreement to KHON
  • HSTA leaders have vowed to sue the State for imposing the Abercrombie administration’s last best and final offer with that 5% pay cut. 
  • The newly imposed HSTA contract does not account for the legally mandated 180-days of school instruction required under Act 167 of 2010 as amended by Act 52 of 2011.  

The HSTA wins in court.  The sun rises in the east.  We know what the sun looks like.  The only question is what will that HSTA courtroom victory look like? 

Will the court mandate negotiations on the basis of the 180-day law?  If so the judge will be portrayed as a hero.  The additional work days will count as a pay hike by the same logic which holds that furlough days are a pay cut. 

This would explain why the Legislature, the DoE, the HSTA, and the Abercrombie administration have all participated in negotiations which ignored the requirements of the 180-day law—they wanted the courts to handle it.

The result: An HSTA contract which exceeds the HGEA contract, thus triggering the “most favored nation” clause.  The UPW would then demand parity. 

Abercrombie will use this Judicially-mandated giveaway to government unions as an excuse to raise taxes again next year.

And the entire process will leave no fingerprints.

---30---

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