Union President says that Senator Hirono plays a “key role” in this effort

HONOLULU, HI – As the United States Congress continues to negotiate a final Fiscal Year 2016 (FY16) National Defense Authorization (NDAA) package, workers at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Naval Facilities Pacific & Hawaii and Defense POW MIA Accounting Agency are urging Senator Mazie Hirono, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, to leverage her influence and role as an NDAA negotiator to help overturn last year’s DOD implemented cuts to employee and military travel per diem and lodging expenses.  The workers, hundreds of whom signed letters this week to Senator Hirono, will face a whopping 25% cut in per diem and lodging expenses for travel in excess of thirty days.

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 121 President/Hawaii Metal Trades Council (HMTC) Vice President, Jamie Hiranaka, provided the following comment on the effort of her members to overturn the travel cuts:

“First of all, we are grateful to Congressman Takai for leveraging his position on the House Armed Services Committee to successfully champion language in the House NDAA that fully repeals these harmful travel cuts for our civilian members, and for military travelers.  Unfortunately though the same cannot be said of the Senate NDAA, which not only did not include a reversal of the travel policy, it actually supports these damaging cuts.  However, the fight on this matter is not over yet, as defense authorizers are currently negotiating a final NDAA package that could still include Representative Takai’s repeal language.  Senator Hirono serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and is in a key role to champion the bipartisan Takai language to reverse the employee travel cuts.  This is exactly what the letters from Senator Hirono’s constituents are asking her to do.

“These cuts to long-term TDY travel penalize employees who are required to travel for long periods of time, and who spend a significant amount of time away from their homes and families.  These workers should not have to worry about whether or not we will have enough money for both our personal responsibilities at home as well as to cover basic necessities such as food and lodging while on official travel and while doing the critical work necessary to support the fleet.   We are hopeful that Senator Hirono will ensure that these cuts are reversed by fighting for Congressman Takai’s house language that overturn this unfair DOD travel policy.”

Effective November 1, 2014, DOD made changes to the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) that included a 25% cut to both the per diem allowance and the lodging stipend for travel in excess of 30 days, and a 45% cut for travel longer than 180 days.  IFPTE Local 121 and the HFEMTC have been working for the better part of 2015 to get these harmful cuts overturned.