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Maui health care workers reject latest contract, continue strike

Nearly 500 unionized health care workers are continuing a month-long strike after rejecting a fourth contract offer from Maui Health, saying it does not offer fair compensation.

United Public Workers on Monday said “an overwhelming number” of its members voted to reject Maui Health’s latest, three-year contract offer.

The workers — which include nurse aides, respiratory therapists, housekeepers, cooks, and others at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital, and Lanai Community Hospital — have been on strike since Feb. 22.

“Once again, Kaiser’s Maui Health System has undervalued our healthcare heroes,” said UPW State Director Kalani Werner in a posted statement. “Our members deserve to be treated fairly and compensated appropriately, and the recent offer from Maui Health System does neither.”

“The latest proposed wage increases still leave many skilled employees making less than the market rate and do not keep up with the inflation rate,” said Werner. “The Employer has proven time and time again that they have money for traveling staff but spare none for the loyal local families that serve their community. Although frontline workers put their lives at risk through the pandemic, hospital management repeatedly fails to do what’s right and give them the respect they deserve.”

Maui Health’s latest contract proposed an average 8.9% pay increase in the first year across all job classifications, plus additional pay increases in each of the remaining years, and higher pay for evening and night shifts.

It also offered a one-time cash bonus of $1,500 for every employee; an additional $500 bonus for employees with 7 to 14 years of service, and an additional $1,000 bonus for employees with 15 or more years of service.

Maui Health in a statement said the bargaining process with UPW over the past nine months has been chaotic, disruptive and stressful for its community, including the more than 100 UPW-represented employees who have chosen to continue working.

“We have engaged openly and positively in contract negotiations with UPW and have reached four separate agreements in good faith, three of which were endorsed by the UPW bargaining representatives and each one was better than the last,” said Maui Health in the statement. “It is very unusual for four consecutive tentative agreements between an employer and a union to be rejected in ratification votes of the union members.”

The latest rejected proposal, Maui Health said, included significant pay increases and other benefits that were improvements over previous offers.

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