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Friday, September 4, 2009
Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy
By Andrew Walden @ 12:41 AM :: 19584 Views :: Education K-12, Labor

By Andrew Walden (Posted July 8, 2009)

It seems like such a simple request. With furloughs blocked, Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle is demanding a formal on-the-record counter-offer from the state’s four government employees’ unions to her June 16 contract offer.

The silence is deafening.

The unions’ hand-picked Circuit Court Judge Karl Sakamoto July 2 chose to rule furloughs were equivalent to wage cuts and therefore unconstitutional. The reaction of HGEA boss Randy Perriera? “This ruling does not solve the problem we all face...."

Perriera has a gift for the obvious. But have union leaders or Democrat politicians offered any solutions?

The Advertiser July 2 reports:

State Senate President Colleen Hanabusa has urged Gov. Linda Lingle to consider alternatives to her furlough plans, including a 5 percent across-the-board pay cut for state workers or one furlough day a month for the next two years, instead of three days.

Fascinating. Where is the money going to come from? The Advertiser explains:

Hanabusa's suggestions would save the state less money than Lingle's furlough plans, but are based on an alternative estimate of the budget deficit that is lower than what the governor projects.

In other words money will fall from the skies and Hanabusa and her buddy Jeff Stone will direct the Ko`olina groundskeepers to pick it up and deposit it into the general fund.

The Democrats’ cozy labor-management elite was trapped into coming up with a proposal yesterday when State negotiator Marie Laderta walked out after 50 minutes. Laderta's move had to be good because only KITV reported the joint union-management proposal--and Democrat reporter Richard Borreca was driven to apoplectic fits.  In today’s Star-Bulletin he writes:

“There must be some parallel universe where management expects labor to tie up the bargaining and nail down the management votes. But today in Hawaii, Lingle can't get agreement either from the unions or the other members of the management team.”

Of course any child knows the Mayors, BoE, and UH Admin aren’t “Lingle’s management team.”  Laderta left behind a room full of Democrats. And what did they come up with in her absence? They endorsed Hanabusa fantasy plan—5% pay cut and one furlough day.  In the real universe Lingle’s team has forced the unions and their Democrat allies to propose something.  That proposal wasn't part of the Team Chaos 2010 game plan.

No wonder Borreca is frothing:

“As much as Hawaii loves the centralized solution to everything from schools to taxes, the state is now watching labor relations divided up into small ineffective units.”

The horror!

But even Borreca has to point out, “HGEA’s Randy Perreira could say the unions made a lot of progress talking to the UH, the mayors, and the DoE. In the end, they didn’t make any progress because they didn’t get the governor.”

That’s the goal. Get the Governor. And instead she’s got Democrat labor and Democrat management sitting in a room forced to come up with a proposal. She is negotiating with Hawaii's corporatist old-boy entity as a whole.  Team Chaos is not amused.

Like any good circus, this one has sideshows--and lots of clowns.

State Senate Majority Leader and anti-Superferry protester Gary Hooser, D-Kauai, wants to be Lt Governor. He tells the Advertiser: "I would like to find some way to break this stalemate." That’s nice. Maybe he will look for an actual solution on the anti-Semitic 9-11 troother website, which he proudly touted on his campaign website as being part of his “regular reading regime.”

Neil Abercrombie must have a solution--he wants to be Governor. Kelly Hu says, “Listening to Neil speak is like going to church." Surely the Abercrombie has received a revelation. He claims, “We need a governor who can reconcile differences and not seek to impose his or her will, who can forge consensus and not pronounce unilateral decisions, who can solve problems and not just take positions…." 

Warm and fuzzy, yes.  But does Hu’s high priest have the answer? Not exactly. Questioned by reporters at his Hilton fundraiser, Abercrombie ducks the challenge saying: “How it's going to be resolved now is something I can't do anything about until I have the opportunity."

Given all the recent allegations of corruption in Abercrombie’s campaign--donations and other dealings with the military-industrial complex--he may never get that opportunity.

Leading Abercrombie’s campaign? Ben Cayetano—certainly knowledgeable about the effect of chaotic union negotiations on a political party’s ability to retain control of the governorship. Is Cayetano directing the effort to force Lingle to re-create the labor-management conditions which almost cost him the governors’ chair in 1998 and helped Lingle defeat Larry Mehau’s latter-day barn-guest, Mazie Hirono, in 2002?

Consistency is not Hawaii Democrats’ strong suit and none of this grand strategy has kept some from pointing fingers at Hawaii’s surgically altered Board of Education for copying the unions’ playbook by refusing to adopt a budget. The Advertiser June 28 reports:

The inaction on the part of the Board of Education has drawn criticism from lawmakers and educators.

Board members should make a decision with the information available to them so schools can prepare, said Rep. Roy Takumi, the chairman of the state House Education Committee.

"No other department is taking a wait-and-see attitude," Takumi said.

No other department? The whole State is being forced to “wait and see” by this Democrat game.

The head of the UH Professional Assembly has a good trick. He just pretends that the unions really have made a counteroffer and the problem is all in Lingle’s head. The Star Bulletin July 7 explains: “J.N. Musto, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly executive director, said the state was not telling the truth, claiming that his union had given the state three written contract proposals and never received a counteroffer.”

Any day now Musto can comply with the “formal, on-the record” part of Lingle’s instructions by posting copies of these “written contract proposals” on his union website—right next to grainy photos of Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the Chupacabra.

One Democrat has stepped up to the plate. Inexperienced backbencher Rep. Angus McKelvey (D-Lahaina) foolishly told the Maui News June 19: “If the governor brought us back in (for a special session) for the Superferry, I think bringing us back for the biggest economic crisis in state history would be very prudent."

McKelvey’s unthinking public outburst forced Maui Democrat Rep. Joe Souki to explain:

"…(W)hat do you want to do? There's not too many alternatives available…. Are you willing to bite the bullet and raise taxes?.... I don't believe there's the political will to raise taxes at this point…. She (Lingle) needs to make the tough call."

And there is they key to the entire conundrum. The Democrats’ electoral strategy for 2010 is an attempt to manufacture chaos knowing it is Lingle who “needs to make the tough call."  Their goal: to replicate the labor-management strife of the Cayetano era—and blame Lingle--so a Democrat can re-take the Governor’s seat in 2010.  Their playthings?  Government employee jobs--and your wallet.

RELATED: July 8, 2009 News Read


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