When Labor Contracts Expire, State Pay To Revert to Pre-Furlough Levels

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Come Friday, some state and county government workers could see their salaries revert to pre-furlough levels if new labor contracts aren't in place. But the state's budget director cautions that the state can't afford to pay the 2009 salary rates for long and that ultimately, 5 percent labor savings would have to be achieved for the entire fiscal year.

Existing contracts expire Thursday for thousands of members of the United Public Workers union, Hawaii State Teachers Association and professional nurses represented by the Hawaii Government Employees Association. The furlough days agreed to in those contracts are equivalent to about an 8 percent pay cut.

Lawmakers built in 5-percent labor savings across its unionized work force — totaling $88.2 million — into the state's operating budget for fiscal 2012, which starts Friday.

"For those who think they'll get a bounce back in pay, it's just setting the state up for increasing the complexity of negotiating because there is not enough money to make it through the fiscal year paying full wages and a 60-40 split for health coverage," Kalbert Young, director of the state Department of Budget and Finance, told Civil Beat Tuesday. "Whatever labor savings get negotiated into the contracts, they'll have to basically make sure that amount will equal out to a 5 percent labor savings — at minimum — for the entire year."

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