Letter writer has it wrong regarding county workers

Once again the record needs to be set straight. In an Oct. 19 letter to The Maui News, a man representing Grassroot Institute of Hawaii claims that “Hawaii’s county employees already make some of the highest wages in the nation.”

As the executive director of Hawaii Government Employees Association, I can tell you that the average salary for our largest bargaining unit is just over $37,600 per year. This unit includes clerical workers, educational assistants and police dispatchers, just to name a few. Clearly, $37,000 is not a high wage in Hawaii nor across the nation.

Public employees are not getting rich. And let’s not forget the high percentage and cost state and county workers pay for their health care coverage. Hawaii’s public sector workers pay between 25 and 40 percent of the cost of medical premiums, not including co-pays and deductibles.

It seems that the author is trying to pit private-sector workers against public-sector workers and trying to set the stage to go after public employee benefits at the Legislature. Just because Grassroot Institute keeps saying something is true doesn’t mean it is.

Let’s be clear on who is backing the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and it’s certainly not grass roots. The organization is part of the State Policy Network — check if you don’t believe me. The State Policy Network has launched an aggressive campaign to, in their words, “defund and defang” America’s unions. This is just a small part of that anti-worker campaign that has crept into Hawaii.

Randy Perreira

HGEA Executive Director