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HGEA members fight for – and win – hazard pay for COVID-era work

Photo: Andrey Popov/ Getty Images
HGEA members fight for – and win – hazard pay for COVID-era work

HONOLULU – After successfully fighting for temporary hazard pay for dedicatedly serving their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1,300 public service workers who work for the County of Maui are seeing the money in their paychecks.

Workers represented by Hawaii Government Employees Association (HGEA), the state’s largest union, started receiving the first round of long-overdue payments from the county on Dec. 30, 2022, with payments expected through February 2023. Additional payments for more complex temporary hazard pay or “hybrid” calculations will be processed in the next round.

This comes after HGEA in October won a long-standing dispute with the county over temporary hazard pay during the pandemic. An arbitrator ruled that more than 1,300 HGEA bargaining unit members are entitled to receive temporary hazard pay of up to 25% of their initial step of their salary range for the duration of former Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation from March 4, 2020, to March 25, 2022.

“This award validates our belief that what our government workforce did during the COVID-19 global pandemic was truly extraordinary. Our members sacrificed their health, and quite frankly, their families’ safety, to show up at work each and every day. They are not just essential workers, they are our social safety net and they kept Hawaii afloat during this unprecedented crisis,” HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira said in a press release the union issued in October.

The union isn’t done fighting for public service workers throughout Hawaii. HGEA is in the grievance process with other jurisdictions over temporary hazard pay but believes that Maui’s decision is a positive sign.

“This is a precedent-setting award,” said Perreira. “We look forward to resolving similar grievances with other jurisdictions so that our members can move forward and focus on serving our community.”

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