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HGEA white collar workers get new contract proposal

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The union that represents about 14,000  white collar workers and supervisors in state and county government reached a new tentative agreement on a contract, after it suspended voting on the old agreement last week, the Hawaii Government Employees Association announced Monday

The ratification process was interrupted after HGEA learned Hawaii State Teachers Association negotiators had won larger across-the-board raises and a larger bonus than HGEA had negotiated for two of its units, according to a statement HGEA distributed to its members last week.

Details of the new agreement were not released. Members of HGEA Units 3 and 4 are being asked to attend ratification meetings to learn about the new agreement and cast votes.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which represents 13,500 public school teachers, announced late Wednesday it had reached an agreement with the state to increase salary and benefits for the remaining two years of the teachers’ current contract.

The existing teachers’ contract restored a 5 percent pay cut made in 2009 and included annual salary boosts of at least 3 percent through a combination of across-the-board increases and pay grade step-ups in alternating years.

Unit 3 and Unit 4 members were originally asked to approve a two-year agreement that would award them either a step movement into a higher pay grade or a $1,500 lump-sum payment on July 1, and another lump-sum payment of $600 for all employees the following year.

The proposal would also have increased the share of health insurance premiums paid by the state and counties each year of the contract; would continue step movements to higher pay grades in the second year of the contract; and would provide for a 1.6 percent across-the-board pay increase in 2016.

Because there is a new agreement, votes cast last week on the old agreement do not count, the union said.

Contract voting times and locations previously scheduled for Monday on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii island will continue Monday. Other locations are being secured for Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Information on the voting will be sent to members.

“Unit 3 and Unit 4 members consist of more than 14,000 dedicated public workers who are the backbone of Hawaii’s government services. It is important to make sure they are treated fairly,” said HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira in a written statement. “Their positions include school educational assistants, school health aides, 911 operators and police radio dispatchers, building inspectors, clerks and secretaries, harbor agents, court bailiffs, and many more positions.”

The public worker unions have been trying to wrap up negotiations in time for the state Legislature to fund the new agreements. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn May 7.

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