Pri­va­ti­za­tion in­junc­tion dis­solved

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL MONEY - By Kevin Day­ton kday­ton@starad­ver­

A fed­eral ap­peals court Fri­day cleared the way for the pri­va­ti­za­tion of three Maui hos­pi­tals to fi­nally pro­ceed by dis­solv­ing an in­junc­tion that had blocked the trans­ac­tion be­tween the state and Kaiser Per­ma­nente.

The 9th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals on May 17 had is­sued the in­junc­tion, ef­fec­tively halt­ing the largest pri­va­ti­za­tion ef­fort in state his­tory.

On Fri­day the court is­sued a new or­der that dis­solved that in­junc­tion, al­low­ing Kaiser to fi­nally as­sume con­trol of Maui Memo­rial Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Kula Hospi­tal & Clinic and Lanai Com­mu­nity Hospi­tal later this year.

Law­mak­ers last year au­tho­rized pri­va­ti­za­tion of the three fa­cil­i­ties, and the state reached an agree­ment in Jan­uary to have Kaiser op­er­ate all three. Gov. David Ige has pre­dicted the ef­fort will save the state $260 mil­lion in hospi­tal sub­si­dies over the next decade.

The pri­va­ti­za­tion ef­fort has been fought by the state’s pub­lic worker unions, which rep­re­sent about 1,400 em­ploy­ees at the Maui hos­pi­tals. Most of the hospi­tal staffers are ex­pected to con­tinue work­ing at the hos­pi­tals for Kaiser, but they will no longer be state work­ers.

The United Pub­lic Work­ers sued the gov­er­nor last year to stop the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the fa­cil­i­ties, ar­gu­ing the state’s plan would harm work­ers who have con­tracts in place that run through June 30, 2017.

On Aug. 13 the two sides an­nounced that Ige and UPW Di­rec­tor Day­ton Nakanelua signed a set­tle­ment en­sur­ing the union con­tracts will re­main in place for the hospi­tal work­ers, while al­low­ing the state to com­plete the trans­fer to

On Fri­day a fed­eral ap­peals court is­sued an or­der al­low­ing Kaiser to fi­nally as­sume con­trol of Maui Memo­rial Med­i­cal Cen­ter, Kula Hospi­tal & Clinic and Lanai Com­mu­nity Hospi­tal later this year.

Kaiser as early as Nov. 6.

Un­der the agree­ment, the hospi­tal work­ers will be su­per­vised by Kaiser, and their state con­tract terms gov­ern­ing is­sues such as wages, work hours, sick leave and hol­i­days re­main in ef­fect through June.

Kaiser must also of­fer the union work­ers jobs for at least six months af­ter the ex­pi­ra­tion of their con­tracts, ac­cord­ing to the terms of the agree­ment. UPW mem­bers work in ar­eas such as main­te­nance, food ser­vice and laun­dry.

In a state­ment is­sued Fri­day, state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Dou­glas Chin said the court made it clear dur­ing oral ar­gu­ments “that it pre­ferred see­ing the par­ties set­tle in­stead of the court mak­ing an all-or-noth­ing de­ci­sion,” adding, “Reach­ing com­pro­mise is not al­ways easy. I thank Gov. Ige and the union lead­er­ship for find­ing a for­ward path.”

The or­der means that all tran­si­tion ac­tiv­i­ties be­tween the state and a new Kaiser en­tity, Maui Health Sys­tem, may re­sume at the three Maui re­gion fa­cil­i­ties, ac­cord­ing to Chin.

Ige has said he ex­pects ad­di­tional state hos­pi­tals will be pri­va­tized, in­clud­ing Hilo Med­i­cal Cen­ter and Kona Com­mu­nity Hospi­tal on Hawaii is­land.

Ige said in an in­ter­view there are no im­me­di­ate plans in the works to pri­va­tize the pub­licly run Hilo and Kona hos­pi­tals, but said the state’s ef­forts on Maui of­fer a “blue­print for how to pro­ceed for­ward on other deals.”

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