Skip to content

Kono vs. Lingle Update – EUTF vs. VEBA

December 14, 2010

KONO v. LINGLE UPDATE
    As you are probably now aware, on December 7, 2010, Judge Sakamoto permitted the transition of the teachers from the VEBA Trust to the EUTF to go forward, ruling that active and retired school teachers were entitled to the “same level of coverage” in health benefits in the EUTF that you now enjoy in the VEBA Trust.  Judge Sakamoto also ordered the $3.96 million previously taken by the State from the VEBA Trust must be paid to the EUTF and set aside to help maintain the teachers’ health benefits in the EUTF.

    Unfortunately, despite our requests the EUTF has not yet agreed to meet with us to make this transition as smooth as possible.  We are concerned that the EUTF may not be able to complete the transition by December 31, 2010, and even if it can, it (1) may not be able to provide the same level of health benefits to you, (2) may charge you higher premiums for the same level of coverage, and (3) may not provide you with timely open enrollment opportunities.  We believe Judge Sakamoto’s order requires the EUTF to provide the teachers the same array of health benefits and alternatives at the same cost as you would receive under the VEBA Trust.

Hopefully, the EUTF will meet with us and address our concerns satisfactorily.  Our lawyers will seek Judge Sakamoto’s assistance if these problems become significant or if the transition becomes impracticable.  However, under any scenario you should be prepared for some problems since we are not in control of this transition.

Posted December 9, 2010

The judge has ruled on the class action lawsuit.  We are working with the attorneys, VEBA, and EUTF to work out details on implementing the judge’s decision.

Kono v. Lingle Class Action Lawsuit

HSTA members obtained a significant victory in the Kono v. Lingle class action lawsuit.  Judge Karl Sakamoto rejected the State of Hawai`i’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. He ruled that all active and retired teachers receiving health benefits from the VEBA Trust have a constitutionally protected right to continue to receive those benefits—which are superior to the benefits available to employees in the EUTF system.  While the court permitted the transition of the teachers from the VEBA Trust to the EUTF to go forward, Judge Sakamoto ruled that active and retired school teachers were entitled to the “same level of coverage” in health benefits in the EUTF that they now enjoy.  Judge Sakamoto also ordered the $3.96 million previously taken by the State from the VEBA Trust must be used given to the EUTF to help maintain the teachers’ health benefits in the EUTF.

HSTA President Wil Okabe was pleased with the court’s rulings.  He said, “We are grateful the court recognized and protected our members’ retirement health benefits.  Judge Sakamoto’s ruling insures our members’ retirement health benefit coverage can never be diminished or impaired by the EUTF or under any other benefit administration plan.”

Posted December 6, 2010

This is an update on the Kono v. Lingle class action lawsuit:

As you know, on September 14, 2010, Hawai`i’s public school teachers filed the Kono class action lawsuit against the State of Hawai`i to protect their constitutionally protected health benefits.  While not a party to the lawsuit, the HSTA spearheaded this litigation on behalf of its active and retired members.

On October 12, 2010, the State filed a motion to dismiss our case, claiming that the law supported judgment in its favor.

On November 4, 2010, we filed a motion for preliminary injunction seeking to preserve the status quo and keep the teachers in their VEBA plans past the December 31, 2010 transition date.  We attached several declarations to our motion from active and retired teachers who needed medication or medical attention.  These teachers attested to the hardships they would suffer from the impending transfer to the EUTF.  Their declarations allowed us to demonstrate to the court the adverse effect that the proposed transfer would have on the teachers, particularly the ill and elderly.

Both parties will be submitting additional briefs on these two motions.  A hearing on these motions is scheduled for December 7, 2010 at 10:30 a.m. before Judge Karl Sakamoto.

Advertisements
One Comment leave one →
  1. Sharon Lee Lehman permalink
    December 15, 2010 12:21 pm

    We need to demand that our lawmakers at the State Level make a law that the State is no longer allowed to pirate the monies of State Organizations into which the members have contributed their own funds and upon which they depend, often for life itself. The State also needs to be prevented from skimming off the top of grants earmarked for other uses (particularly those related to health benefits or education), taking for themselves as much or more than 2/3 of the award funds. Just because a thing is not against the law, does not make it just, right, or correct. Robbery is robbery, no matter who does the robbing. Those folks need to be concentrating on how to be fiscally responsible to the people of this state whom they supposedly represent. Robbing the citizens should not come under their job entitlements, despite what they presently seem to assume.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: