Nurses represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association have overwhelmingly ratified a new two-year contract that includes raises of 4 percent per year plus “step movements” that allow them to move up the pay ladder into higher-paid classifications.
Only two of the 1,700 nurses in the HGEA’s Bargaining Unit 9 voted against the proposed settlement during statewide ratification votes, said Randy Perreira, executive director of the HGEA.
“It was quite the margin, and I think our members in the nurses’ unit are generally happy with the result of things,” said Perreira. The HGEA is the largest union in the state.
Perreira estimated that 19,000 to 20,000 public workers who are represented by HGEA remain in negotiations, and said he hopes to reach settlements for additional units so that additional agreements can be funded by the legislature before the end of the current session on May 7.
“As you might anticipate, we’re a little bit closer with some (units) than with others,” he said.
The step movements for the nurses are structured to particularly benefit new hires, in part to help nurses who accept pay cuts in order to switch from private sector jobs to state government, Perreira said. “The employers and us agreed years ago to kind of concentrate step movement so that as they past probation, they move up to the job rate pretty fast,” he said.
The contract is designed to push new hires up the scale with step movements at three months, and again at six months, he said. Additional step movements are available to nurses who stay in the system longer term and reach specific seniority milestones, he said.
HGEA represents nurses in the state’s network of hospitals that include the Hilo and Maui Memorial Medical Centers, as well as the state’s prisons, the Hawaii State Hospital and public health facilities.