Union rallies support for funding new lifeguards contract

Members and supporters of the Hawaii Government Employees Association unit that represents lifeguards waved signs and rallied Monday along Ala Moana Blvd. to show support for their colleagues on Maui.

Earlier this year, the union approved a new contract calling for a 16 percent increase in wages, increase in benefit costs and a new salary schedule.

The counties pay the lifeguards and that’s where the deal got hung up in Maui. The Maui County Council says it needs to find more than a million dollars to pay for the increases.

Without the county approval on Maui, lifeguards across the state are affected.

Bargaining unit president Mel Puu says “it’s something that we need to get across to Maui county and have them understand that when you hold up (their) lifeguards, you’re actually holding up the bargaining unit statewide.”

The union reports that Maui lifeguards performed 438 rescues and took 163,079 preventive actions last year.

The county council will consider the lifeguard contract again on Wednesday.

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