Legislative Action

2024 Legislative Session in Review 

When the legislative session starts in January, HGEA combs through the thousands of introduced bills to track those that may impact members. Using our legislative priorities as a guide, we determine lobbying strategy and which bills to support or oppose. We're your voice for labor at the capitol.  

Post-Session Recap: Major Wins

The union is stronger today than we were at the start of the 2024 legislative session after lawmakers passed several pro-labor bills and we successfully fought back against others that eroded worker rights. Here's a quick rundown of our successes this session.

Major Wins

  • Repricing Bill: HB1640
    Allows public sector unions to proceed to arbitration if the union and employer comes to an impasse over repricing job classifications. This bill sunsets on July 1, 2029. 
  • New Employees Bill: HB1642
    Allows the exclusive representative to file a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board if the employer fails to conduct a new employee orientation. 
  • HLRB Confirmation: GM529
    The senate confirmed Stacy Moniz as labor representative on the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

Bad Bills We Defeated

  • Worker Rights: More than a dozen bills that would have exempted employees from civil service and/or excluded employees from collective bargaining.
  • AI Doing Our Jobs: A bill that would have allowed artificial intelligence to supplement four essential government services.
  • Privatization: A bill to privatize one small boat harbor.
  • Telework: A bill that would have established a telework monitoring system for state employees; and a bill that would have limited the number of days a state employee can telework to two days a week. 

Our Priority Bills

  • Department of Human Resources Development Vacancies Report: HB1645/SB3297
    Requires DHRD to provide data on executive branch vacancies.
  • Duty to Defend: HB2699/SB2520
    Requires the state to defend its employees from civil actions when they are acting within their professional scope. 
  • Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust FundHB1641/SB3299
    Allows public sector unions to proceed to arbitration for disputes on the employee-employer contribution share for their health plans.
  • Indebtedness: HB1643/SB2448
    Reduces the minimum amount owed when an employee is mistakenly overpaid by the state.
  • New Employee OrientationHB1642/SB3219
    Establishes penalties for an employer who fails to comply with new employee orientation requirements.
  • Overtime in Pension Calculation: HB1644/SB2608
    Includes overtime in pension calculations when an employee is directed to work more than their regular hours to serve the public because of a natural disaster under an emergency proclamation. (Only applies to ERS employees hired after July 1, 2012. Overtime is already included in pension calculations for those hired before this date.)
  • RepricingHB1640/SB2449
    Allows public sector unions to proceed to arbitration for the repricing of positions.

Good Bills We Supported

  • Improving Labor Practices at State Health Care Facilities: HB1580
    Establishes a working group to research and recommend best practices in labor for implementation at state health care facilities such as minimum staffing standards, hospital staffing committees, mandatory meal breaks and overtime standards. 
  • Funding for Bargaining Unit Costs: HB2374/SB3063
    Emergency funding appropriations for cost items of bargaining units 2, 3, 4, 9, 13 and 14. This currently includes the cost of respective salary adjustments negotiated for fiscal biennium 2023-2025 and temporary hazard pay for eligible Department of Education employees. 
  • Penalties for Assaulting Health Care Workers: SB2186
    Establishes penalties for assault and terroristic threatening. 
  • Protecting Personal Information of Public Servants: HB1916/SB2686
    Prohibits government agencies from disclosing the personal information of certain public servants and their families. Establishes penalty for individuals who post personal information of a public servant on the internet. 
  • Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii: SB1511
    Curbs the hiring of employees that should be included in a bargaining unit. 
  • Resolving Payroll Lag: HB1908
    Requires public officers and employees be paid pursuant to a predicted payroll schedule. 
  • Leave Cash-Out Pilot Program: HB1945
    Establishes and funds a pilot program for eligible department of corrections and rehabilitation employees working at a state corrections facility. 
  • Liability Protections for Lifeguards: HB2266/SB3259
    Permanently reinstates liability protections previously afforded to county lifeguards. 
  • Workplace Safety for Educational Workers: HB1651
    Requires the DOE and charter schools to establish procedures to report and handle incidents of harassment. 

Bad Bills We Opposed

  • Artificial Intelligence Pilot Program: HB2245/SB2879
    Establishes and funds an artificial intelligence pilot program to provide certain government services (e.g., unemployment services, death certificate issuances, building permits)
  • Civil Service Exemptions:
    • Employees' Retirement System: HB2385/SB3074 
      Exempts some ERS positions from civil service.
    • Department of Accounting and General Services: HB2319/SB2717/SB2820/SB2821
      Allows DAGS to employ persons exempt from civil service and collective bargaining requirements.
    • Department of Health - Mental Health Program: HB2068
      Authorizes the Director of Health to appoint psychologists to positions in the state mental health program. These psychologists would be exempt from civil service.
    • Department of Health - Pilot Program: HB2529
      Establishes a five-year behavioral health exempt employee pilot program under which the department may fill employee vacancies in its Behavioral Health Services Administration in a manner that exempts them from civil service.
    • University of Hawaii Housing: SB2507
      Excludes civil service requirements when hiring employees for UH student or employee housing or personal services to privately financed or leased buildings. 
  • Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund: HB2519/SB2530
    Amends composition of the EUTF board of directors (loss of two labor seats). 
  • Privatization
    • Akaka Veterans Home: SB3267
      Requires any state-funded facilities built on Department of Hawaiian Homelands be managed and operated by veterans or a veteran-run organization.
    • Small Boat Harbor: HB1919/SB2555
      Establishes a pilot program to lease one small state boat harbor for private development and management.
  • Telework
    • Limits Number of Days: HB1985/SB2598
      Requires DHRD to revise telework policies and set a maximum limit of telework days per week along with supervision and accountability standards. 
    • Telework Monitoring System: SB3371
      Establishes and funds a pilot telework monitoring system to assess productivity of teleworkers.

Legislative Priorities

Your State Committee on Political Action, chaired by Vice President and Unit 3 Director Jon Gasper, knows that more must be done to recruit and retain government employees. After careful review and deliberation, they recommended the following, which was approved by the Board of Directors as the organization’s 2024 Legislative Priorities:

  • Recruit and retain a strong government workforce
    Address pay equity, attract the next generation of employees, and develop benefits for a 21st century workforce.
  • Ensure funding of vital services for our community
    Actively seek ways to generate additional state & county revenues to preserve government programs.
  • Protect the right to organize, maintain civil service, and advance collective bargaining
    Ensure civil service protections under Chapter 76, HRS and expand collective bargaining rights under Chapter 89, HRS.
  • Oppose privatization
    Services provided by government employees should be protected.
  • Protect retirement benefits for current and future retirees
    Promises made to employees upon hire should be kept.

Historical Success

HGEA's history of legislative accomplishments includes: 

  • Five-day work week (1941)
  • Funeral leave (1955)   
  • Unlimited sick leave accumulation (1959)
  • 40-hour work week (1959)
  • Equal pay for equal work (1961)
  • Health Fund dental benefits (1965)
  • Retirement credit for unused sick leave (1975)
  • Staggered work hours (1977)
  • Deferred compensation plan (1981)
  • Fully paid children's dental and group life insurance (1991)
  • Final and binding arbitration for HGEA units (1995)
  • Creation of Unit 14 (2013) and Unit 15 (2021)