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Still Afloat: Ocean Safety Bargaining Unit Agreement Resurfaces

May 5, 2016, 5:19 PM HST · Updated May 5, 5:19 PM
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Ocean Safety. Photo credit Office of Council Services.

Ocean Safety. Photo credit Office of Council Services.

The Budget and Finance Committee will again consider approval of cost items for employees included in the new Hawaiʻi Government Employees Association Bargaining Unit 14 during a meeting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11, in the Council Chamber.

Committee Chair Riki Hokama made the announcement noting that an arbitration decision was reached in February for the new unit, which covers a two-year contract for ocean safety officers.

In Maui County, approximately 50 ocean safety officers will be affected.

The contract includes a 17% increase in wages because of the employees’ reallocation to a new bargaining unit, which includes a new salary schedule, continuation of their step movement plan, automatic increases in fringe benefit costs and four percent increases across the board.

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In a resolution submitted to the committee, the total projected impact of the contract for fiscal year 2017 is upwards of $1.05 million. The resolution also states the “arbitration decision and award shall be final and binding upon all parties” but “implementation shall be subject to appropriation by the appropriate legislative body,” according to Hokama.

“Ocean safety officers are instrumental in ensuring the protection of our residents and visitors, and there is no doubt our employees deserve proper compensation for the service they provide,” Hokama said in a press release. “County council officials, who are tasked to find monies to fund salary increases in such agreements, have no say at all on what appears to be a ‘done-deal’ matter.  The process is frustrating,” he said.

The committee at an earlier meeting in March noted all Hawaiʻi county councils must approve the proposed Bargaining Unit 14 cost items. Otherwise, all parties involved will come back to the negotiating table. The county Personnel Services director said this was an opinion from the state’s attorney general.

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The fiscal year 2017 budget recommended by the committee includes an appropriation to fund the agreement.

The meeting is open to the public and testimony may be emailed to [email protected], referencing BF-6.

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