Unions Tested Even in Blue Hawaii
Even in the bluest of states, Hawaii’s government employee labor unions are swallowing pay cuts and deep benefit reforms brought on by the state’s financial troubles.
But they aren’t fighting the changes much, with the state’s largest union tentatively accepting a 5 percent salary reduction and broad overhauls of retirement perks that brought fierce opposition in previous years.
Union leader Randy Perreira said even though Democrats control most of the state’s elected offices and unionization levels are among the highest in the nation, workers understand that long-term costs must be contained.
“The proposed changes are things that ideologically, we union guys don’t agree with,” said Perreira, executive director for the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state’s largest public employee union representing more than 28,000 active workers. “But you’ll notice that we haven’t stepped up in opposition, simply because we realize these changes may be necessary.”