Settlement with union over private-sector contracts could cost millions

Source: Keoki Kerr, Hawaii News Now, October 19, 2015

McCartney said the state is reviewing at least 506 contracts across 12 state departments, which hire private workers to do everything from highway groundskeeping to air conditioning maintenance, as it decides how many of those jobs will be handled by state workers instead. … The private contracts that could end and be replaced by state employees in the next few years are for work such as janitorial, plumbing, tree trimming, auto repair, painting, carpentry and electrical. … The state’s decision to transition at least 99 of the 506 contracts currently filled by private workers means departments will have to ask lawmakers for money to fund the positions. The state will also need to recruit and hire people for those new jobs. Most of the affected jobs are blue-collar positions represented by UPW, which as of last year represented about 4,959 blue collar state employees, nearly 10 percent of the state government workforce.

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Taxpayers will pay more as state phases out some private contractors
Source: Keoki Kerr, Hawaii News Now, October 6, 2015

The state is phasing out the use of private contractors for highway landscaping and other maintenance work, costing taxpayers more money and settling two long-time class-action grievances filed by one of the state’s most powerful unions, the United Public Workers. Across Hawaii, landscape workers who are employed by private contractors do routine maintenance of state highway medians and shoulders. The UPW alleged the state unlawfully privatized services that were historically performed by state workers who were unionized employees. … The settlement means state departments will have to create new jobs such as groundskeepers and taxpayers will pay their salaries along with health and retirement benefits.  Mulkern said state workers are not as productive as private sector employees, mostly because they have far more annual vacation days (21), holidays (13; 14 in election years) and sick days (21) compared to the private sector. … It’s unclear how many new state jobs will be created but they range from groundskeepers statewide who clean and trim the grass along highways to those who perform air conditioning maintenance.  The state could not provide an estimate of how many contracts are affected, how many new state positions might need to be created and how much money that could cost taxpayers.