Saturday, November 28, 2015         

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United Public Workers considers striking

By Derrick DePledge


Members of the United Public Workers are taking a strike authorization vote as part of their contract fight with the state.

About 8,500 UPW blue-collar state and county workers have the power to strike. About 3,000 public safety workers have to resolve disputes through binding arbitration.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie has sought 5 percent labor savings and an equal split in health insurance premium costs in contract talks with public-sector unions.

"We're still in negotiations," Donalyn Dela Cruz, a spokeswoman for the governor, said of talks with UPW.

A union source familiar with the negotiations said the UPW agrees with the labor savings and premium split but prefers achieving the savings from furloughs rather than straight pay cuts.

"We're still talking," the union source said. "In our mind we're really close."

The UPW is holding the strike authorization vote among members on Oahu through today. Next week the union will poll members on the neighbor islands.

The state reached an agreement with the Hawaii Government Employees Association on a new two-year contract and has imposed its "last, best and final" offer on the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

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