Employees' Retirement System Lawsuit
August 11, 2016
On Tuesday, the Employees' Retirement System filed suit to stop implementation of the law that provides a severance or an early retirement benefit to Maui region Hawaii Health Systems Corporation employees who are being terminated from state service due to privatization. The ERS position is that the law, known as 2016 Hawaii Laws 2nd Special Session Act 1(SB 2077), may jeopardize the ERS tax exempt status.
We are disappointed, but not surprised, by this latest move which once again appears to be an effort by the state to deny fair treatment to the Maui region hospital workers whose state positions are being privatized.
For your background information into this issue, during the legislative session HGEA met with representatives of the ERS, the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, the Governor's office, and leaders of the State House and Senate to vet SB 2077. At that time and continuing through the session concerns that the bill may affect the ERS tax exempt status were never brought up. SB 2077 was always believed to be a clean bill. It was not until well after the bill unanimously passed both houses on the eve of the veto deadline that the Governor stated this concern.
We continue to see these actions by the state and their agencies as tactics to deny fair treatment to the Maui region employees. However, we do take the information expressed in the ERS lawsuit seriously and our legal counsel is reviewing the matter for any potential impacts.
During the privatization process, it was and continues to be HGEA's goal to advocate for fairness for our affected members. It is also HGEA's stated mission to preserve and advance employee rights and benefits for all employees. We will continue to fight for the Maui region employees while ensuring that the benefits of all members are protected and preserved.
Additional information about this ongoing issue will be provided as it becomes available.