The city of Honolulu hasn’t agreed on a new contract with its blue-collar employees, but one thing is certain — with furloughs over, workers will get a temporary salary bump.
Wages and benefits of city workers has reverted to pre-furlough levels after their United Public Workers labor contract expired on Thursday. The contract covered UPW’s Unit 1, namely non-supervisory employees in blue-collar positions, including refuse, sewer and road maintenance employees.
Still, some confusion arose Friday — the start of the new fiscal year — as some city employees told Civil Beat they were informed that two-day-a-month furloughs would continue until a contract is ratified.
But Louise Kim McCoy, spokeswoman for Mayor Peter Carlisle, confirmed that salaries and benefits for UPW’s Unit 1 members will “revert back to June 2009 levels until a contract is settled.”
“The City & County of Honolulu has ended furloughs for all employees, including UPW Unit 1 members,” she told Civil Beat Friday. “Due to pending negotiations, the city is unable to comment any further.”
McCoy said the city and union leaders on Thursday evening resolved unspecified issues that will allow negotiations to continue.
“The city and UPW leadership were able to work out issues regarding the effect of the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement,” she said. “With these issues resolved, the city, as part of the employer group, is able to focus attention on the important task of negotiating a new contract. It is the city’s priority to provide essential services to our citizens while protecting the rights of our employees.”
The mandatory time off was implemented by former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann at the start of last fiscal year on July 1, 2010 as a way to save money. Furloughs amounted to about an 8 percent pay cut for workers.
Carlisle, who has said furlough days were “invented by the devil,” eliminated furloughs for city workers in his 2012 budget. His budget plan assumed a 5-percent drop in “across-the-board labor savings.”
UPW’s state director, Dayton Nakanelua, did not return calls seeking comment.
At the state level, six of the seven bargaining units under the Hawaii Government Employees Association started a new contract Friday that was agreed to back in April. That deal includes 5 percent pay cuts, nine extra paid days off, and a 50-50 split of health care costs between employees and the state.
The seventh unit, professional nurses, did not agree to the terms. The union says it has informed the Hawaii Labor Relations Board that contract talks are at an impasse.
Meanwhile, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, which covers public school teachers, also has not agreed to a new contract. The state Department of Education has said it will impose a 5 percent labor savings effective Friday. The teachers union says it will challenge the decision.
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