News Archive

Fighting for You: Grievance results in safer working conditions at Honolulu Board of Water Supply

January 22, 2021

As a result of HGEA staff and members working together to fight for workplace safety, renovations were made to the Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS) Customer Care Division in 2020, and the customer service representatives (CSRs) can now feel safer from hostile customers coming into their office.

On a daily basis, the CSRs interact and come into direct contact with BWS customers, some of whom threatened to physically harm CSRs in late 2019. These customers had a known history of threatening CSRs at BWS. Previously, the Customer Care Division was entirely open, and CSRs sat behind open desks that placed them within arm’s reach of customers.

“The immediate response from BWS wasn’t sufficient to ensure the health and safety of HGEA’s members,” said HGEA Union Agent Jesse Sliva. “HGEA members organized around this issue and called a meeting with management at BWS, including BWS Director Ernie Lau. We raised our concerns, and proposed improvements and changes to security features, the physical layout of the worksite, and their policies and procedures. We also filed a grievance on behalf of all of CSRs to preserve their right to appeal further if the proposed changes didn’t materialize in a timely fashion.”

After HGEA filed and presented its grievance, BWS made many, if not all, of the requested changes. Barriers, doors and cameras were installed, resulting in a safer workplace for HGEA members.


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.

Back to News Archive