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Fighting for You: HGEA wins settlement for food and drug inspectors and sanitarians

December 22, 2020

Thanks to HGEA’s doggedness, approximately 25 employees from the state Department of Health (DOH) — food and drug inspectors and sanitarians — finally received compensation from a settlement, totaling nearly $200,000.

“It was a drawn-out battle because the employer kept refusing to compensate. We finally prevailed,” said HGEA Advocacy Chief Stacy Moniz.

In the settlement, food and drug inspectors were credited with sanitarian experience for the time period (August 2013 to February 2019) that they were performing additional sanitarian duties, such as food establishment inspections, while they were administratively assigned to the Sanitation Branch.

Under the guise of a reorganization in 2013, consolidating the Food and Drug Branch (FDB) and the Sanitation Branch, all FDB positions were administratively assigned to the Sanitation Branch. However, DOH evaluated the consolidation and determined that FDB and the Sanitation Branch should remain as separate branches, initiating an organizational change to re-establish the FDB and return to its functions of a fully operational branch. The FDB reorganization was approved in December 2018, and the administrative assignment of the FDB positions to the Sanitation Branch ended in February 2019.

From 2013 to 2017, HGEA persistently filed numerous grievances on behalf of the food and drug inspectors and sanitarians, and eventually filed a prohibited practice complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

We received an overwhelmingly positive response from the DOH employees who were at last compensated for the extra duties they performed for several years. This case illustrates the importance of being an HGEA member and HGEA’s function to fight for fairness in the workplace and protect your rights and benefits.

As a labor union, HGEA advocates for workers’ rights in the workplace, including job security, pay and benefits, and good working conditions. We are dedicated to protecting you. We are responsible for providing contract enforcement, receiving and investigating member complaints/concerns and filing/presenting formal grievances as well as assisting members in reorganizations, consultations and interpretation of rules, regulations, and policies and procedures related to conditions of employment, and providing arbitration representation.

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