Maui County council committee approves funding for new lifeguard contract

Maui lifeguards are one step closer to receiving money for their new contract.

Maui County Council’s Budget and Finance committee Wednesday unanimously approved a resolution to fund a two-year contract that includes a 16-percent pay raise. It now goes to the full council for a vote.

Read County Communication 16-50 here.

“We deserve it. It’s high time,” said Mel Puu, bargaining unit president. “We are the lowest-paid ocean safety officers in the world and we are the number-one risk officers in the world.”

The county’s 55 lifeguards are part of Bargaining Unit 14, a newly authorized statewide negotiating entity of the Hawaii Government Employees Association. The contract is based on a binding arbitration decision.

An update posted to Maui County’s website stated:

“Councilmembers expressed admiration and respect for the lifeguards and their critical work at county beaches, but raised concerns about county councils’ lack of representation in the collective-bargaining and arbitration processes for all bargaining units and the contract’s million-dollar price tag.”

If passed, Maui County would be the last county in the state to finalize the increase.

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

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