"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi
by Andrew Walden (Originally published September 21, 2014)
Hawaii's State-owned HHSC hospitals are down to their last few days worth of cash on hand. HHSC may close Oahu long term care facilities such as Leahi Hospital and Maluhia literally throwing hundreds of elderly patients into the street. Maui Memorial Hospital is closing its adolescent mental health clinic: oncology and dialysis are next.
Scott McFarland, CEO of HHSC's Kauai region says, "If there is one hiccup, we will not meet payroll." Gary Yoshiyama, Board Chair of the HHSC East Hawaii region points to the hospitals' inability to pay for its collective bargaining agreements, explaining, "We cannot absorb the cost without deep harm to our community."
Hawaii Government Employees Association President Randy Perriera's response to HHSC's troubles?
Perriera's remarks came in his keynote address to the union's May, 2014 biannual convention. He told delegates:
"We helped defeat a bill that would have sold off our HHSC hospitals to the private sector....
...those who promoted the bill's passage suggested that the pay and benefits of the public workforce is (sic) too rich for the State to sustain. They claim that HGEA 'work rules' make it impossible for them to operate. This comes from a bunch of jokers who don't know how to manage a hospital system, who make exorbitant salaries, many of them over $200,000 a year. And they lavish millions of dollars a year on contracts with their friends and mainland outsource services. Yet with a straight face, they have the nerve to complain that it is our employees that are driving the system into the ground.
They have some uninformed friends in the press who continue to advance the nonsense and continue to blame HGEA for the failure of the bill to pass to privatize HHSC.
One of these so-called journalists, a guy named Andrew Walden of the Hawai'i Free Press, actually called HHSC the 'HGEA job trust.'
Is HGEA partially responsible for the failure of that bill to pass? Yes, and I'm damn proud to admit that.
For people like Andrew Walden; people who look to sell our jobs out from under us; people who look to outsource services, deny what we have earned, try to cut our wages and benefits, and keep us down, I have a very simple two-word reaction: F*** You."
The remarks are a good sign that the HGEA has no solution for the HHSC. In at least one private meeting, HGEA officials desperate to continue collecting dues from HHSC employees have suggested it would be preferable to close Kona Hospital than to take HHSC out of the civil service system.
Amusingly, Perriera claims "uninformed journalists ... continue to blame HGEA for the failure of the bill to pass to privatize HHSC" and in the next breath says, "Is HGEA partially responsible for the failure of that bill to pass? Yes, and I'm damn proud to admit that."
Perriera claims the "bunch of jokers" running HHSC "lavish millions of dollars a year on contracts with their friends." Really? The HGEA is certainly well-placed and highly motivated to expose such corruption, yet no information has been released.
One of the "mainland services" Perriera complains about is Stroudwater Associates, authors of a 2009 report which describes how HGEA and UPW are strangling HHSC and outlines the path to free the failing system.
Nearly 4,500 workers will be freed from the HGEA and UPW when the HHSC is privatized. If Perriera is stripped down to "F*** you" as an argument, that is a sign he will soon be defeated.
Ironically many HHSC employees will be paid much better when they are out of the HGEA and into a private sector union such as the Hawaii Nurses Association. Many HGEA nurses know they are being failed by their union, as evidenced by a close read of their comments in the infamous 2011 videotape of Maui nurses arguing with Neil Abercrombie.
On the Big Island, Kamuela's North Hawaii Community Hospital shows Hawaii what the HGEA-free future will bring. After joining the Queens Healthcare System, NHCH is in the black, recruiting MDs, and adding about 20 new positions.
Quoting Kennedy, Perriera summed up his remarks with what must be the HGEA's strategy for the HHSC: "Those who dare to fail miserably, can achieve greatly."
He's got the first half right.
Video: Perriera remarks at 15:30-17:50