Union contract settlements are rolling in, and while thousands of government workers have pay raises to look forward to, Gov. David Ige’s administration needs to find the money to foot the bill.
So far, nine of the 14 public employee bargaining units have negotiated new contracts or been awarded salary increases through binding arbitration decisions.
While some of those bargaining units include county workers, the cost to the state’s general fund over the next few years will be substantial.
Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director, said the new contracts announced for HGEA units so far are fair.
Civil Beat file photo
In fact, according to Wes Machida, the state’s budget director, the total cost of the nine contracts is approximately $461 million.
He said with a price tag like that it’s almost certain the state will have to look at budget cuts and spending restrictions, although he admits it’s too soon to know the specifics.
“It is going to be difficult to fund all of the increases,” Machida said. “We’ll probably have to regroup after everything has been passed through the Legislature and then work with the governor in terms of what we need to do going forward.”
Here’s what is known about how the new contracts will impact the state’s bottom line (counties will incur their own costs for honoring the new bargaining agreements):
Hawaii State Teachers Association
The teachers union came to a negotiated settlement this week that includes a 13.6 percent pay bump over four years. The new contract was ratified by the membership Thursday.
Cost estimate: $323 million
Hawaii Fire Fighters Association
One of the first unions to get a new contract was the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association, which as the name implies, represents firefighters, most of whom work for the counties.
Several bargaining units of the Hawaii Government Employees Association — by far the largest union, public or private, in the state — also got new contracts.
Six of the bargaining units, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 13, received two-year deals that generally provide for pay raises of 6 percent to 7 percent. The state will also increase its contribution to increasing health insurance costs.
On Friday, HGEA also announced a tentative agreement for bargaining unit 6, which includes 975 education officers. The agreement is a four-year deal and includes various pay raises of under 2 percent per year and salary step movements.
Unit 2 cost estimate: $2.1 million
Unit 3 cost estimate: $39 million
Unit 4 cost estimate: $3 million
Unit 6 cost estimate: $37.3 million
Unit 8 estimate: $11.1 million
Unit 9 cost estimate: $5.6 million
Unit 13 cost estimate: $39.7 million
A handful of union contracts have yet to be decided, including that of the statewide police union, the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers.
The state’s law enforcement officers as well as state and county ocean safety workers also have yet to receive a new contract.
HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira issued a statement after six of his public employee bargaining units received their arbitration awards, describing the decisions as fair and in line with the awards made to other public employee unions.
“Hawaii’s high cost of living has made it difficult for many working families to make ends meet,” Perreira said. “There is still work to be done to bring salaries up to a competitive level in order to recruit and retain the best possible workforce, but we are grateful that this is a positive step in that direction.”
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