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Abercrombie says state can’t agree to pay nurses more money

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Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says the state can’t agree to pay more money to nurses who rejected a proposed labor contract.

The Maui News reported today that Abercrombie told Maui residents at a public meeting that every public employee is already sacrificing, and the state’s financial difficulties prevent it from giving raises to nurses.

Abercrombie was responding to a question Sunday posed by a Maui Memorial Medical Center nurse who said nurses need fair wages compared to their colleagues who work in private hospitals.

The nurses have been protesting a new two-year Hawaii Government Employees Association contract that cuts pay by 5 percent and increases health care premium costs.

The nurses were the only of seven HGEA bargaining units that didn’t ratify the contract last month.

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