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Big Island nurses to get a raise

March 1, 2014 - 6:25am

About 620 of Hawaii Island’s registered professional nurses are due to get a raise.

On Friday, the Hawaii Government Employees Association Bargaining Unit 9 announced that its members had “overwhelmingly ratified a new two-year contract,” covering the period of July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2015, with 99 percent voting to approve the agreement.

Effective Jan. 1, the union members will receive a 4 percent salary increase, followed by a 4.3 percent increase July 1. Meanwhile, the union negotiated a 60 percent-40 percent employer/employee split on the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund health insurance premium.

In an emailed response sent Friday afternoon, Hawaii Health Systems Corp. East Hawaii Regional CEO Howard N. Ainsley said the nurses deserve to see a pay increase, but warned that the added financial burden could negatively impact the operation of island safety net hospitals.

“We value our nurses and are pleased that their contributions are recognized in the form of pay increases,” he said. “However, these increases come with a financial cost that greatly impacts the hospital. We especially hope that the governor and legislature fully fund these increases so that they do not negatively affect our ability to serve our patients and community.”

The bargaining unit represents nurses at health facilities across the island, including Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘u Hospital, Kona Community Hospital, Hale Hoola Hamakua, Kohala Hospital, University of Hawaii at Hilo, and the state departments of Health, Public Safety and Human Services.

“The Unit 9 negotiating team, compromised of HGEA members, did a good job negotiating a deal that is fair and equitable,” said Ian Takashiba, HGEA’s Hawaii Island division chief. “Our nurses provide an invaluable service to the public. We are glad that the members came out to vote and overwhelmingly supported the terms of the agreement.”

HGEA’s Unit 9 membership consists of nearly 1,700 registered professional nurses statewide. Ratification meetings for Unit 9 were held statewide from Feb. 14 to 27.

Email Colin M. Stewart at