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Abercrombie says he's ready to negotiate with teachers union

The governor's remarks are posted on YouTube

By Michael Tsai

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 08:00 a.m. HST, Aug 29, 2011



It's hardly viral — just a scant 47 views to its name as of early Sunday evening — but a YouTube video of Gov. Neil Abercrombie speaking with a small group of Kauai teachers on Saturday may offer a bit of hope that the governor and the Hawaii State Teachers Association could return to the negotiation table sometime soon.

The video — accessible at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1kxi_GKFcM — captures a 10-minute exchange between Abercrombie and about nine teachers, including HSTA Kauai Director Tom Perry, in an outside parking lot purportedly in Puhi, where Abercrombie was having lunch.

Early on in the mostly civil conversation, and again toward the end, Abercrombie indicates that he is ready and willing to meet with HSTA negotiators.

"I would do it this afternoon," he says as the video opens.

But in an e-mailed response early this morning, HSTA President Wil Okabe said the governor is the one who walked away from talks and the union wants to go to arbitration.

The two sides have been engaged in a testy public exchange of allegations since Abercrombie imposed a "last, best and final offer" based on what he said were terms already agreed upon by both sides. HSTA filed a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board arguing that the state did not bargain in good faith and that it violated its members rights by imposing the contract.

In the YouTube video, Abercrombie and Perry rehash many of the already well-documented talking points on the impasse.

At one point, Perry reminds Abercrombie of the union's early support of his gubernatorial campaign and quotes Abercrombie's own exhortation that everybody paddle in the same canoe.

"What we feel is, right now, there were 10 days left in that canoe race and you jumped out of the canoe," Perry says in the clip."You are the only person in this state who can bring everybody back. What we're asking from you is to find that steering paddle and get back in the canoe."

Abercrombie responds by saying he'll take the 4 p.m. plane back to Honolulu and invites HSTA leaders to meet with him that evening.

Okabe said the Kauai union members shared their video with HSTA leadership.

"You will hear the Governor say again and again that he has lost faith in HSTA's negotiators," Okabe said. "But, he hasn't given a reason to have faith in him: he imposed his contract on us, hired an anti-union lawyer, interfered with the labor board, and refused a neutral arbitrator.

"But an arbitrator is exactly what's needed when people lose faith in one another."

In the video, Abercrombie also says, repeatedly, that he has been waiting for HSTA leaders to discuss their concerns with the contract and, if necessary, to make a counter-proposal.

"I asked, the superintendent asked, the chief negotiator, the board of education — what is it that is not acceptable to you?" Abercrombie says. "That was asked in mid-June and it is now almost the end of August and we never received word."

The exchange effectively ends with Perry agreeing to go back to the union leadership to help arrange a time to meet with the governor. The media-savvy Abercrombie then uses the final minute or so to speak directly to the camera.

"I'm ready, my people are ready, our negotiators are ready (and) have been ready since mid-June," he says. "As far as I can see, no HSTA negotiator has taken one single step physically or otherwise to sit down to do the actual negotiating you're speaking of. I think this gentleman here (Perry) has the right idea. Go back to your people who are doing the negotiating and tell them the governor is ready and has been ready since mid-June. There's a very simple way to test it:

"Pick a date, pick a time and show up."

 







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Makaha_guy wrote:
This governor needs to be reminded that it was HIS team that walked away from negotiations. Those Kauai teachers are correct about him jumping out of that damn canoe early while everyone else was still paddling. What a hypocrite Neil has proven to be.
on August 29,2011 | 04:45AM
NiteMarcher wrote:
test
on August 29,2011 | 02:10PM
bullturd wrote:
It's always the "Little Guy" that suffers, Uh! I don't mean you Neil.
on August 29,2011 | 05:22PM
bender wrote:
It seems like Abercrombie is going to change his mind about meeting with the union. I don't think he should though. The union maintains the state walked away but not true. The state had a handshake deal with HSTA negotiators which was later rejected by HSTA leadership. That means they are the ones who didn't keep up their end of the deal, thus turning their back on the state. They should get the same deal as the rest of the unions and not one penny more. I know HSTA members somehow feel they are better than the other unions but it ain't so. Funny, though UHPA has the same feeling.
on August 29,2011 | 05:42AM
Wajima wrote:
Union negotiators "do not" make the final decision to accept the State's offer. The Union members need to vote and agree to accept or reject the employer's offer. If the membership rejects the offer, there is no agreement!
on August 29,2011 | 06:24AM
Denominator wrote:
Wouldn't it be great if "we" got to vote on the whether the State accepts the deal too!
on August 29,2011 | 10:22AM
Toneyuki wrote:
We do. We vote for our representatives every 2 years. We get what we vote for.
on August 29,2011 | 02:55PM
1local wrote:
Last and final offer - what part of that don't the HSTA and teachers understand? Unions are not interested in education of Hawaii's children - Unions are self interest groups only interested in holding education and children hostages...
on August 29,2011 | 06:44AM
Kawipoo wrote:
Nobody wants to listen and watch Abercrombie. Not unless they have bulimia and can't gag themselves.
on August 29,2011 | 07:02AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
He blows with the wind. Why should anyone trust any deal with HSTA? They reneged on their deal for drug testing. Where do they come off accusing anyone of negotiating in bad faith? Why should Abercrombie or anyone trust their word.?
on August 29,2011 | 07:09AM
soundofreason wrote:
They could have offered to give up some "fluff" like any vacation/sick time. But noooooo. Their objective is to not give up ANYTHING. Nothing. So why bother.
on August 29,2011 | 07:25AM
NiteMarcher wrote:
I can agree with that
on August 29,2011 | 02:06PM
soundofreason wrote:
He says he's been ready since June. So, actually it just more of the same. And just WHAT is it the HSTA has to offer other than trying to jack stuff back up? Where's the benefit for the Governor to do anything? Let HSTA simmer in their own juices.....and dues.
on August 29,2011 | 07:18AM
McCully wrote:
Typical shorty. Always changing his mind. If he goes on meeting with the HSTA, this shows you that no democrat can be trusted.
on August 29,2011 | 07:22AM
soundofreason wrote:
""I asked, the superintendent asked, the chief negotiator, the board of education — what is it that is not acceptable to you?" -----------------------------What's not acceptable is the giving up of ANY ground. ANY! It's all about THEM. They could have offered to give up some fluff like sick time/vacation time but the important thing for them is to NOT give ANYTHING.
on August 29,2011 | 07:22AM
akuman808 wrote:
The Gov and Okabe should get into a 2 man canoe and paddle into the sunset, Aloha Oe'!
on August 29,2011 | 07:29AM
bullturd wrote:
So-Neil is planning his re-election campaign? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha...if Mufi was to run again for Guv..he will definatley get my vote this time.
on August 29,2011 | 07:50AM
mcc wrote:
ABM Anobody but Mufi!
on August 29,2011 | 08:33AM
Highinthesierras wrote:
Hope the old mullet dude grinds them down. And hope he looks to innovative ways to improve the system.
on August 29,2011 | 08:13AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
What's there to negotiate? I thought the state stand was final offer. Did something change? I hope the state doesn't back down. HSTA braintrust is not to be trusted. Hope the teachers take back their own union.
on August 29,2011 | 08:20AM
AhiPoke wrote:
"At one point, Perry reminds Abercrombie of the union's early support of his gubernatorial campaign" Translation - "we own you". I think abercrombie started with every intention to "pay back" the union. He's a politician, which means he's always looking towards the next election. However, like the federal government and virtually all states and counties, the state of Hawaii is broke. There's nothing left to give. I can almost guarantee that the financial situation will get much worse as our politicians are doing nothing to make things better. And, for that matter, our public schools are doing such a bad job of educating our children, there's very little hope that our state will ever be able to support any high skill, high paying, industries. What we're going to be looking at over the next 20 years is a continuing flight of our best and brightest kids looking for better employment. To make matters worse, when uncle danny eventually passes away (not long now), it's not unlikely that some of our military bases will be closed. We're in deep s---.
on August 29,2011 | 09:03AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
You teachers, along with HSTA, should be ashamed of yourselves. Other state workers have taken a pay cut and increased health care cost but you think you are BETTER than them. Everyone should share in the burden. Private sector workers have taken much more in pay cuts and many do not even have the health care benefits that you enjoy. Why should I pay more in taxes just so that YOU can enjoy YOUR benefits while I struggle to pay for food to feed my children. I wish that I could afford to send my children to private school because I cannot stand to look at all of you. Shame on you!
on August 29,2011 | 09:11AM
Denominator wrote:
right on!
on August 29,2011 | 10:22AM
lucky181 wrote:
UPW and the Nurses union have NOT taken a pay cut. They haven't yet negotiated a new contract. UPW has taken a strike vote too. The only state unions with pay cuts are HGEA and HSTA.
on August 29,2011 | 12:35PM
keight wrote:
But aren't they? Would you be willing to give up your job and take a teaching position? Why didn't you choose to be a teacher instead of whatever you do now? I think teachers have shared enough of the burden (have you seen what they are paid? And I'm not talking about teachers who've been in the system 20+ years and are ready to retire... ) And knowing that you have children in public school, shouldn't you be advocating for better teachers instead of lumping them all together and shooting them down? I don't know about the teachers your kids have, but you can't judge all teachers by just them... I've had awesome teachers at all my public schools. Of course my parents also took the time to look into what schools were good and how to get me there. I will say it would be nice if schools could compete for students, then parents could have their pick of all the schools on the island without having to have a relatives house in the district... Just a thought...
on August 29,2011 | 04:16PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
The average teacher's salary according to Teacher Portal is $49, 292. My salary is below that as a federal worker who works long hours beyond my regular hours and do not have the holidays that teachers enjoy. My share of the medical coverage is fifty percent. That is the norm in the federal government. The starting pay for teachers is now $35,816. My pay started below that and my position requires a college degree. I never complained about my pay cuts nor did I make drama over my health care coverage increase. Why? Because I know that everyone is suffering and the government cannot afford to pay us what it used to. Remember last year when the teachers got paid through the hurricane relief fund? Well, no other state workers got a piece of it. Did you see them complaining that the teachers got the better deal? NO. It's a give and take and all the teachers do is take. To me, they should not be complaining that so and so got more because they got some extra last year. The teachers, along with their union are nothing but a bunch of manipulative crybabies.
on August 29,2011 | 06:18PM
kahu808 wrote:
Talk is cheap
on August 29,2011 | 09:47AM
tinapa wrote:
Governor, if you give the teachers even just a penny more than what is in the "last and best " offer, you must also pay the part time teachers who have been waiting for years to be compensated fully for the hard work they have done on behalf of the school children. Remember, these individuals are not asking for "freebies" but rather asking for something that they justly deserve.
on August 29,2011 | 10:48AM
sohappy2beme wrote:
This whole things stinks! Most of the bargaining units under HGEA settled early on with the claus of "favored nation" status--that if any other union negotiated a better deal, we would be entitled to that same deal because we settled early. Abercrombie saved the state way more than he had anticipated just with our union alone, but now they say that we will not be entitled to whatever HSTA gets if they go to arbitration--arbitration negates the favored nation claus. So once again we get left with nothing. Paying more for medical, still taking a 5% paycut and a furlough even if the Abercrombie doesn't want to call it that. Why do teachers always feel they are entitled to a better deal than any other state worker?
on August 29,2011 | 11:54AM
ainokea wrote:
Will Okabe should quit being a drama queen and talking about what Abercrombie did or didn't do. There is no money. Either lay off the administrators/teachers or deal with the pay cuts. I think unions have outlived their usefulness.
on August 29,2011 | 12:39PM
ISCREAM wrote:
You miss the obvious...they want a GET increase!
on August 29,2011 | 02:35PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
If not, they would rather say their co-workers get laid off rather than take a pay cut. Teachers are cold and ruthless if that is the case.
on August 29,2011 | 06:22PM
nitestalker3 wrote:
hmmmm, first okabe, the cry baby, wanted to go back to the table and moaned and groaned on various talk programs and articles in the paper. now, with the outside chance that the gov will really sit down at the table, okabe doesn't want to talk any more, he wants arbitration thinking he'll get more fm an arbitrator than the state. this is the typical union tactic, delay, delay, delay til they think the legislature will step in. betcha if they go to arbitration okabe will be working the legislature for increased get so he can go to the arbitrator and say the state (legislature) is willing to increase taxes to pay increased wages. it's what he always does. he just doesn't seem to understand there is no more money. why doesn't he let the teachers vote. why is he running the union like a despot and dictator where only he can talk. let the union members vote. if they want to go back to work, fine, let's get on with it. if they want to strike, fine, fire them all and start over. i don't know about the rest of you but i'm tired of all this b.s. every couple of years and especially when the d#$n union lied about pay increases tied to random drug testing. especially when a lot of the businesses in the state require random, no notice testing of their employees and the supreme court says it's constitutional. if we want to be fair about the whole issue, the teachers should pay back every cent of the pay increase til they live up to their side of the bargain. their appeal for fairness is so one sided it would be funny if it wasn't so sick.
on August 29,2011 | 01:59PM
NiteMarcher wrote:
testing again
on August 29,2011 | 02:11PM
Toneyuki wrote:
NiteMarcher, if you make a post and don't see it, just refresh your browser and it will show up. Sometimes it takes a few seconds for it to get posted.
on August 29,2011 | 02:53PM
ISCREAM wrote:
Can anyone spell charade? That is all this has been....and Okabe is in collaboration. This is not about the union or anything that was or was not on the table. This is about the coming tax increase...yes the Gov. has wanted to increase the GET since before he came into office. He wants a bigger allowance to spend and couldn't get one last session. So hold onto your pocket book as this is used for justification to raise the GET!
on August 29,2011 | 02:29PM
Toneyuki wrote:
HAHAHAHA the Unions are complaining because "their candidate" isn't capitulating to their wants. They have a choice, either a pay cut or lay off a portion of the teachers resulting in more students per teacher. There is another solution though. Break up the DOE. How much money is lost in that money pit? We are the only state in the union that has a single school board for the entire state. Bigger isn't always better.
on August 29,2011 | 02:59PM
keight wrote:
Don't you mean the Board of Education (BOE) or are you talking about the Department of Education (DOE)? And would a lot of small Boards of Education or Departments of Education (depending on which you are talking about) actually save money or cost more money? I would think it would cost more... Just a thought...
on August 29,2011 | 05:12PM
braddah wrote:
The proof is the action, not in a video posted on youtube! Teachers, with the differences in medical have endured a 11.78% paycut. That is the truth.
on August 29,2011 | 03:30PM
bullturd wrote:
Testing...having problem posting.
on August 29,2011 | 07:27PM
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