Arakawa: HGEA Contract Proposal not Optimum for Maui

April 13, 2011, 2:49 PM HST · Updated April 13, 2:49 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa continues to seek clarity on a contract agreement with the Hawai’i Government Employees Association (HGEA) this week saying the current proposal is “not optimum for Maui.”

The proposed agreement was announed last week by Governor Neil Abercrombie, prompting requests for more information and details from both Arakawa and Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.

“My philosophy, and it’s a personal quirk you might say, I don’t like to approve things that I don’t understand,” said Mayor Arakawa during an exclusive interview on Monday.  “When you’re looking at contracts where every word may have a significance, and the impacts down the line are not clearly defined, then I have a real problem with just giving a blanket approval,” he said. 

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Gov. Abercrombie said the agreement would save the state an estimated $124 million over two years, and end the two-day-per-month furloughs in the current contract.

Vantage from the State Building on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Mayor Arakawa said he did get a briefing on the contract and continues to work with the Governor to try to settle all four government agency contracts including: the HGEA, United Public Workers (UPW), the State of Hawaii Polce Officers Union (SHOPO), and the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association (HFFA). 

“The impact on each one of these contracts is going to have significance on the others, so it’s very critical,” said Mayor Arakawa.  In addition to its impact on other employee unions, Mayor Arakawa said the contract also affects each county differently.

“The Governor has very different circumstances from Mayor Carslile from the City and County of Honolulu, or Mayor Billy Kenoi of the Big Island, or Bernard Carvalho of Kaua’i, or our County,” said Mayor Arakawa.  “That is the challenge in what we have to work with–it’s that all of the counties have different requirements, but yet we need to come up with one universal contract that’s going to settle somewhere in between where everybody can agree,” he said.

“What we are trying to do is get the optimum contract agreements, or at least the flexibility to be able to create more optimum contract agreements.  Ultimately, our employees and our community will be best served,” said Mayor Arakawa.

The HGEA is the largest labor union in the state with more than 42,000 members.  The HGEA represents state and county employees in seven bargaining units including: 796 blue collar supervisory employees with Unit 2; 14,096 white collar non-supervisory employees with Unit 3; 817 white collar supervisory employees with Unit 4; 800 educational officers with Unit 6; 2,127 administrative, professional and technical University of Hawai’i employees with Unit 8; 1,561 registered professional nurses with Unit 9; and 7,927 professional and scientific employees with Unit 13. 

The agreement still requires a ratification vote by HGEA members.

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