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Thursday, July 2, 2009
Unions' hand-picked Judge blocks furloughs
By Selected News Articles @ 1:18 PM :: 7341 Views :: Energy, Environment

No surprise here.  The unions shopped for Sakamoto amidst the Hawaii Judiciary's sea of plenty.

Here are some quick hits from the local media...more updates as they become available

    Judge says governor's order is subject to collective bargaining

      Sakamoto granted a request by the Hawai'i State Teachers Association and the United Public Workers for a temporary restraining order and the Hawai'i Government Employees Association's request for a preliminary injunction. The unions have also sought permanent injunctions.

      The unions had asked the court to find that new layoff procedures should be subject to collective bargaining. Sakamoto said the request was premature because the governor has not ordered layoffs. 

      (Hmmm.  Layoff and then be enjoined by unions' hand-picked flunkey Sakamoto?  Or appeal now?  Hmmmm....  And of course for Democrats the key question is how to make the Gov take the fall for all of this--and maximize the chaos--leading to a Dem gubernatorial victory in Nov 2010.)

      Democrat Borreca: The state will now negotiate with unions to find added savings

      "I continue to believe that we must approach this unprecedented fiscal challenge with a sense of shared sacrifice in the short term, while remaining focused on our long-term economic future," she said.

      Lingle has said previously that if she were blocked in court, she would start laying off state workers. She did not mention layoffs in last night's statement.  (Borreca is dreaming--or setting the stage for chaos)

      Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett were reviewing yesterday whether to appeal the case and were not available for comment....

      "This ruling does not solve the problem we all face...." --Randy Perreira, HGEA executive director (Hidden lead, anybody?)

      News Release from Governor's office

      Governor Lingle said that she and her cabinet will be working late into the night and through the weekend to plan the next steps following Friday's court ruling on her furlough plan.

      "Today's decision by Judge Sakamoto did not change the state's fiscal situation. We still face at least a $730 million shortfall that will likely grow larger when year-end tax collections are finalized next week. In addition, the shortfall could grow again when the Council on Revenues meets in September. While we have already cut $2 billion in spending, the fact is we simply cannot afford the government we have now.

      "We will be working on two tracks throughout the weekend to close the budget shortfall. We will continue to negotiate labor contracts to achieve the savings we need to secure a balanced budget, as required by our constitution. 

      "We also will be continuing to identify additional savings from all state departments.

      "I continue to believe that we must approach this unprecedented fiscal challenge with a sense of shared sacrifice in the short-term, while remaining focused on our long-term economic future."

       

       ---XXX---

      REPUBLICAN LEADER LYNN FINNEGAN HAS ISSUED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT ON JUDGE SAKAMOTO’S DECISION

      “It is ironic that the Court’s decision comes on the same day that national unemployment numbers have hit a 30-year high. The Governor’s plan addressed our State’s deficit while keeping people in their jobs.

      In similar cases, other state courts have sided with their Governor's ability to furlough in order to address a large budget shortfall. Without the furlough option or an appeal by the State, the only other decision is to move forward with layoffs.

      Unfortunately, history shows that layoffs under collective bargaining procedures cause major disruption in services, are difficult and very slow to implement, and achieve less than expected savings.  This was the case during Gov. Cayetano's administration."

      ---XXX---

      No decision on layoffs yet, Lingle says

      Gov. Linda Lingle said today she has made no decision on layoffs yet, and will consult with the state attorney general before she makes any decision.

      The governor spoke in Kapolei shortly after a judge ruled that she has no authority to unilaterally order the furlough of state workers.

      Lingle had warned that if her furlough plans were blocked by union legal challenges, she would resort to layoffs of 2,500 state workers under her control.

      read more

      Judge halts furloughs for state workers

      Unions representing teachers and blue- and white-collar workers argued that Lingle does not have the authority. Permitting her to furlough workers violates their contract agreements with the state, the unions contend.

      In a court filing yesterday, Attorney General Mark Bennett argued that state law allows Lingle to “relieve an employee from duties because of lack of work or other legitimate reason.”

      “She is relieving employees from duty for legitimate reasons,” Bennett said in a court document. “This is the essence of a furlough.”

      The unions argue that the furloughs translate into a wage reduction of nearly 14 percent, and that the governor has not attempted collective bargaining for those wage reductions, but has unilaterally imposed them instead.  (And their judge bought this argument)

      Lingle has already issued an executive order declaring furloughs will start this month, with July 10 as the first scheduled day without pay.

      read more

      Judge's ruling halts Lingle's plan to furlough state workers

      First Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto ruled this morning that Gov. Linda Lingle does not have the authority to unilaterally order furloughs for state workers.

      Sakamoto said furloughs are subject to collective bargaining.

      Herbert Takahashi, representing the HSTA and UPW, told Sakamoto that labor rights are meaningless if the state can unilaterally order furloughs.

      In their motion for today's hearing, the unions cited a 2002 Hawaii Supreme Court ruling that prevented the state from imposing a two-year wage freeze on state workers without going through collective bargaining.

      State Attorney General Mark Bennett had said he would ask Sakamoto to move the dispute to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board rather than have it argued in court.

      read more

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