[Hawaii State Supreme Court] The State’s final appeal of the payroll lag issue, where the state unilaterally delayed the payment of salary for all public employees beyond the end of the fiscal year to “save money,” has finally ended. The position of the UHPA has been upheld to the extent that we argued in the Federal District Court, Hawaii Labor Relations Board, and the State Circuit Court, that the then existing contract barred the state from implementing these new payroll dates from the prevailing pay periods of the 15th and 30th of each month.
Our current contract, which is effective through June 30, 2009, continues that bar. However, the Court majority did not agree that the subject of payroll dates was one of core subjects of collective bargaining. This means that the Court has said that the payroll date would not be a mandatory subject of bargaining, and could be subject to change through legislative action. (Governor Cayetano initiated the payroll lag and the state legislature enacted the law that removed the issue from scope of bargaining in 1996.)
In a concurring but dissenting opinion, Justice Acoba states, “The conclusion the majority arrives at runs contrary to the findings made by the HLRB and the federal courts that pay dates are material to collective bargaining….”Defendants [the State of Hawaii] did not challenge the court’s findings that injury would occur to Plaintiffs [UHPA on behalf of the faculty] if the pay lag were imposed. The court’s findings in this regard then must not be disturbed and, thus, the majority is incorrect.”
There will be no payroll lag before the end of this contract in 2009. However, the issue of day dates will be another subject of bargaining, along with retirement issues and health insurance coverage, that has been taken away from public employees in Hawaii.
UHPA will work to gain support from the other public sector unions, including HGEA and the HSTA, to repeal the law that took away payroll dates as subject of bargaining. If the law remains in effect, then UHPA will make proposals in the next round of bargaining that specifically provide that faculty members are fully paid the annual salary that is negotiated within the period of their appointments.