HSTA says Ige proposing pay cut for teachers, first responders, and nurses

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The Hawaii State Teacher’s Association says it has received notice from Governor David Ige’s office, alerting them about a possible 20% pay cut.

According to a letter sent to teachers Tuesday night, the pay cut would impact most public workers and could happen as early as May 1.

The HSTA also said that Governor Ige’s plan would include a 10% pay cut for first responders including firefighters, EMT’s, nurses, and police.

The union also said that the Governor’s human resources and budget directors say the cuts are meant to prevent an economic collapse amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Ige’s office has not yet returned a request for comment.

My fellow educators,

Earlier today, leaders from the Hawaii State Teachers Association and other public sector unions received ominous news from Gov. David Ige’s administration.

In a meeting at the state Capitol, we were informed that the governor wants to implement a 20-percent salary cut for most public employees, including educators, and a 10-percent cut for first responders, such as police officers, firefighters, nurses, and EMTs. These cuts could occur as early as May 1.

According to the governor’s human resources and budget directors, the cuts are meant to prevent an economic collapse as the coronavirus pandemic cuts off a major source of state revenue. We were not given any formal proposal, and it is unclear if the governor intends to implement these cuts as furloughs or across-the-board salary decreases.

This is unacceptable. While we recognize the coronavirus has already started to cripple Hawaii’s economy, no one can be sure of its long-term impacts. We believe cutting salaries for tens of thousands of state workers is rash and will hurt our state even more.

A 20-percent salary reduction would result in the loss of between $600 and $1,800 in monthly income for our educators. Salaries for Hawaii’s public school educators are already low, and cutting an additional 20 percent will inevitably worsen Hawaii’s teacher shortage crisis, denying our keiki the quality educators they deserve.

We believe there are other options. Hawaii has access to additional resources. At the close of last fiscal year, Hawaii had a cash surplus and rainy day fund totaling more than $1 billion. Congress recently appropriated $863 million to our state government with hundreds of millions more for our counties as part of a $2 trillion stimulus package—and lawmakers are discussing additional stimulus funding.

We know this is a scary situation. We are actively working to get more details and will inform you of the latest developments as soon as we can. HSTA and other public sector unions have made it clear to the governor that this will exacerbate our weakening economy, hurt government employees, and potentially prolong this crisis.

We stand united and will not accept the governor’s plan without exploring every last alternative to keep these harmful cuts from happening.

In solidarity,

Corey Rosenlee

HSTA President

Courtesy: htsa

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