How Battles Over Privatization Played Out in Hawaii’s Courts

Source: Barry Shanoff, Waste 360, June 15, 2016

Nearly 20 years ago, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that an agreement between the County of Hawaii and a private contractor for the operation of a county landfill violated civil service laws and merit principles. Adopting the “nature of the services” test, the court held that the civil service, as defined by state law, encompasses those services that have been “customarily and historically” provided by civil servants. … Later, after the city balked at making good on its promises, the UPW took the matter to the state labor relations board. Following several appeals, the local circuit court ordered the city to honor its agreement. After unsuccessfully appealing the circuit court’s order to the state supreme court, the city restored formerly privatized front loader refuse collection services to multifamily properties and non-profit organizations. Regulated by state law and city ordinances, front loader services are part of the municipal solid waste system. The City Department of Environmental Services is the agency responsible for administering the collection and disposal of refuse. For approximately the last 10 years, six work crews have utilized seven front loader trucks to service 1,615 dumpsters twice a week for 181 multi-family residences and nonprofit entities, as well as some 50 city agencies. …

… In July 2014, after the City Council voted to end funding for front loader collection vehicles, the department’s director announced the discontinuation, effective January 31, 2015, of such services to previously served multi-unit residential properties and non-profit organizations. The department sent notices to the affected properties, urging them to make arrangements with private refuse hauling companies for collection services. … Seizing the momentum, UPW promptly filed a motion for summary judgment on its claims that the city’s decision to end front loader services involved prohibited privatization and violated civil service laws. The circuit court granted the motion and permanently enjoined the City from discontinuing public refuse collection and disposal services to the 181 properties. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Hawaii unanimously affirmed the lower court ruling for essentially the same reasons as articulated by the lower court. “[T]he broad definition of privatization as the ‘shift from government provision of functions and services to provision by the private sector,’ . . . encompasses the type of privatization that is at issue in this case: government shedding of service, or the situation when government decides to stop providing certain services and leaves it to private entities to fill the need,” the opinion stated. …


Hawaii Supreme Court hands city a setback with ruling on trash pickup
Source: Catherine Cruz, KITV, May 17, 2016

The United Public Workers union sued the city last year when it tried to terminate free service to multi-family apartments and condos, as well as to non-profits and churches. The Hawaii Supreme Court has now upheld a lower court’s decision saying that ending the front loader service violated civil service law and constitutional merit principles. The head of the city department that handles refuse pickup is disappointed, but said what matters now is that the city is down to only seven aging front loader trucks, and that’s not good. …

UPW suing city over change in garbage collection
Source: Jim Mendoza, HawaiiNewsNow, January 7, 2015

Starting on February 1, 181 churches, condominiums and non-profit groups will no longer have free trash collection from the city. They will have to pay private trash collectors. Richard Emery’s company Associa manages a dozen of the affected condo associations. …. .
Union files class-action lawsuit against Honolulu over trash hauling
Source: Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News, January 5, 2015

A union representing more than 100 public workers in Hawaii is suing the City and County of Honolulu over the city’s recent decision to privatize garbage collection services for about 111 condominiums and 70 private schools, churches and other nonprofit organizations across Oahu. The change is a result of a City Council decision to stop funding for future purchases of front-loading trucks for these trash services, and with no trucks to replace the old ones, the program is shutting down, as first reported by PBN.