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Hawaii public school teachers approve contract on second try

By Susan Essoyan

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:59 p.m. HST, May 23, 2012



Hawaii teachers approved by a 2-to-1 margin a contract that they had previously rejected, although the governor has said the agreement is no longer valid.

"I am pleased to inform you that two-thirds of teachers (66 percent Yes, 34 percent No) have ratified the January agreement," Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association said in message to members posted on the union website. "This vote is a testament that democracy is strong as ever among the HSTA membership. ... 

"Just as teachers reconsidered their position, we are now asking the Governor to reconsider his. Our students deserve nothing less."

The state contends that the six-year contract proposal has "no legal standing" after teachers voted it down by a 2-to-1 margin in January. Instead, Gov. Neil Abercrombie wants to make a new deal with the union and has called for a return to the negotiating table.

The contract would continue 5 percent wage reductions through June 30, 2013, before moving to a new salary schedule that recognizes teachers' length of service. It would also make teachers eligible for 1 percent raises annually for those rated "effective" or "highly effective."

Union officials said they held the second vote in an effort to help the state hang on to a $75 million federal grant for education reform. Okabe said before the vote that the union considers it a "good and viable agreement." Members voted electronically and via telephone from Thursday through Tuesday.

Teachers have been working under a "last, best and final" contract imposed by the state on July 1, which included wage reductions an increases in health care costs. The union has challenged that move in a case before the Labor Relations Board that wrapped up last Thursday after 10 months of hearings. It is not clear when the board will rule.

After the January vote, some teachers said they felt pressured into a quick response to a deal that wasn't adequately explained, particularly the new evaluation system that would tie pay raises in part to student performance. Since then, the union has held briefings for teachers to explain its provisions.







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ilovefrenchfries wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on May 23,2012 | 03:09PM
oneindisarray wrote:
Please enlighten us. What is the smart move for a group of hard working professionals who can't afford a strike since they've been bearing the burden of the state's budget woes for nearly 4 years. Strike? Can't afford it (see prior sentence). Strike authorization? What good are empty threats? What is it? What's the smart move?
on May 23,2012 | 05:48PM
atilter wrote:
answer - replace your representative. at least you won't be caught between the rock and the hard place with clear and concise communications.
on May 23,2012 | 06:32PM
oneindisarray wrote:
Funny. That was the exact answer I was expecting. Very evasive. Nobody's perfect but switching out your leadership in the middle of a dispute like this is a horrible idea.
on May 23,2012 | 07:35PM
atilter wrote:
then don't expect any significant changes to coming your way soon. 3 ways to solve a dilemma - change the factors precipitating the problem; change the mind set of one or both the participants; or change the participants participating in the process precitating the hurdle. there was a chance to the latter. apathy prevailed. so now it is what it is - more of the same - a totally avoidable fiasco.
on May 23,2012 | 08:33PM
oneindisarray wrote:
Here's the truth: -HSTA heavily endorsed our Governor because of his supposed extremely liberal and pro-union ideologies. -HSTA has the most members of any teachers union in the country and any union in the state. -Neil Abercrombie gained office. -Neil Abercrombie imposed a lbfo on teachers declaring impasse even though there were 9 days before the deadline AND HSTA went into the session that day with an offer (yes that's actually true). -Neil Abercrombie responded to a nearly 140 page counter offer with a 2 1/2 page "settlement offer" (that means take it or leave it) that did NOT include pay raises of any sort and included harsher wording on teacher evals. The participant that needs to be changed is not HSTA leadership. They've had their flaws but are not the villains. The Villain is the pen-weilding munchkin.
on May 23,2012 | 09:22PM
sccoutt wrote:
I think many teachers were scared that the alternative would be a strike. I can't blame them.
on May 23,2012 | 03:19PM
Blue_Powder wrote:
You teachers already rejected the original offer that was on the table in January. Therefore, there is no offer currently on the table for the teachers to accept NOW. The teachers really need some new leadership. Someone who actually understands contract and labor law. Feel sad for the teachers. Clueless.
on May 23,2012 | 03:20PM
lee1957 wrote:
The teachers don't need new leadership, they just renewed the current crew for another tour. The fact that only about 1 in 5 actually voted, and barely half that number kept Okabe, says alot. The teachers created and are perpetuating this mess; the 80 percent who didn't vote and and the 11% voting for Okabe. Apathy hardly breeds sympathy.
on May 23,2012 | 04:57PM
thatsashame_0723 wrote:
Doesn't say how many teachers actually voted. I'd like to see those numbers.
on May 23,2012 | 03:29PM
oneindisarray wrote:
Me too. Honestly this vote can have a lot of power if at least 7000-8000 people voted. If it's less than 6000 (half the teachers in the Union) then that's problematic.
on May 23,2012 | 05:51PM
Steve96785 wrote:
It may well have been just the same 20% or so who voted in the union officers election. No numbers released to the membership at HSTAs web site, either. The best vote you can send the so-called leadership is to call their Membership office and ask for the papers to leave the union. Then we need to work hard to decertify these fools and find some who will actually represent us for a change.
on May 23,2012 | 09:24PM
Changalang wrote:
The RTTT money was already in the bag. Everybody look at how relevent Wil still is. Shibai all day long. Teachers' time is much more important than to waste time on a contract vote that the State has already voided secondary to the non-ratification vote on the contract by HSTA earlier. Sad.
on May 23,2012 | 03:29PM
oneindisarray wrote:
RTTT money is not in the bag. It's still high risk to be re-evaluated within the next 5 months. And one of the major reasons it's still high risk is because of the labor dispute.
on May 23,2012 | 05:39PM
Anonymous wrote:
Hey Will Okabe; quit kissing up to the governor and do your dang job! Why is it only now, you are considering the welfare of the students? TOO LIttle TOO late! The HSTA union leadership is the reason why a lot of teachers don't want to work or apply for work with the DoE!
on May 23,2012 | 03:32PM
Big C wrote:
That's two dumb votes by the members of the HSTA. 1) Keeping Wil Okabe and 2) Voting for an invalid contract. Standard Business Law, Once a counteroffer is made, the original offer is no longer valid.
on May 23,2012 | 03:38PM
oneindisarray wrote:
Standard business law and collective bargaining laws don't go hand in hand... just letting you know. So unless you're an expert in collective bargaining you may want to go study up before you make statements like this.
on May 23,2012 | 04:37PM
Changalang wrote:
Are you implying that this vote is legal and binding via your expertise?
on May 23,2012 | 04:51PM
Changalang wrote:
" Gov. Neil Abercrombie indicated, however, that the negotiating teams would need to update the once-scorned agreement, as it's no longer valid. He wrote the union saying his negotiating team looked forward to crafting an agreement that "is clear, current, and correct." . . . In a separate statement to news media, Abercrombie said his attorney general told him the contract has "no legal standing." He noted that the union submitted a new proposal to the government in February that it hasn't withdrawn. " ( 04MAY2012; Mauinews.com )
on May 23,2012 | 04:57PM
Steve96785 wrote:
Nor have they shown any of it to the membership.
on May 23,2012 | 09:26PM
atilter wrote:
therein lies the problem!!! standard business law IS NOT THE SAME THING as collective bargaining laws. how non-sensical can that be? - unless the latter was enacted to create an imperfect playing field where fairness is totally out of the equation.
on May 23,2012 | 08:44PM
wakempe wrote:
They can't get a second bite of the apple. Will Okabe should be fired!
on May 23,2012 | 03:43PM
Kaneala wrote:
The HSTA under Okabe's leadership is a joke. No one takes them serious nor shoulld they. It is a rudderless ship at sea with a captain that should be thrown overboard. Unfortunately, because the apathy felt by the teachers, with a turnout of less than a quarter of the teachers union voting on its leadership, they "Will" be and are stuck with no can Okabe for another term. Auwe!
on May 23,2012 | 03:58PM
Bean808 wrote:
MEANINGLESS.
on May 23,2012 | 04:24PM
oneindisarray wrote:
I really want to know how many teachers voted. I voted yes and I'm ecstatic that so many others voted yes. All you fist pumpers who think it's a sad day seem to be ignoring reality. My concern is all the teachers who may have neglected to vote. If less than half the teachers voted then this vote won't mean much.
on May 23,2012 | 04:35PM
ilovefrenchfries wrote:
So you're saying that it's okay for you to get basically no raise since 2009 and only get a step increase for the next 6 years? Again I thought teachers deserve more than that.... and again I thought teachers were smarter than that.
on May 23,2012 | 10:38PM
magicman1433 wrote:
State makes an offer...Union pressures teachers into approving it...Teachers reject the offer by a large margin...Rejected offer is taken off the table & counteroffer is made...Gov. says that counteroffer is fiscally irresponsible...Union walks away from the bargaining table & pressures teachers to re-vote on rejected offer...Next step should be: Gov. rejects new vote & forces the union back to the bargaining table...
on May 23,2012 | 04:51PM
oneindisarray wrote:
You left out the Governor's 2 1/2 page settlement offer in response to the counter offer. The counter offer was nearly 140 pages. His settlement offer did not include any pay raise at all and language more restricting than what he agreed upon in January. And if the Governor rejects the vote then strike authorization will be the next step.
on May 23,2012 | 05:37PM
oneindisarray wrote:
Yes. I am implying that.
on May 23,2012 | 05:37PM
A_Reader wrote:
All of a sudden "Wil Okabe" has an incredible new revelation...""............. Our students deserve nothing less." What the "Stuedents" really need is that Wil Okabe and the unions get out of the business of "DOE". Now "That", would be too simple and a no brainer for improving our education system.
on May 23,2012 | 06:01PM
Changalang wrote:
Kabuki theater. Matayoshi was due to announce the RTTT funds still being awarded any day now. This gives the illusion that Wil made it happen while simultaneously setting up the teachers for a, shall we say fluid, evaluation process. What other unions are being thrown under the school bus by their own leadership? On the bright side, at least the membership knows where the bottom is on their tumble. Too bad, so sad; but there really is no better path forward. Neil pwns Wil.
on May 23,2012 | 06:13PM
atilter wrote:
what is the usual result of being "a day late and a dollar short"? what happens when the designated agent is deficient in communicating pertinent details ona biven contract proposal? in real estate - the deal is lost and the agent does not any commission and/or is replaced. it's curious how and why this agent is still in the cat-bird-seat. how does that square with getting your money's worth and being an akamai negotiator? answer - it does not!!!
on May 23,2012 | 06:28PM
false wrote:
So now we know, they're all hopeless. Birds of a feather.....
on May 23,2012 | 08:03PM
oneindisarray wrote:
All hopeless? Can someone finally explain to me all the negatives about voting yes to this contract?
on May 23,2012 | 08:15PM
ilovefrenchfries wrote:
Yes, as I replied to one of your other comments, you're getting another pay cut next year and then another increase for the next 6 years that will be equivalent to your pay in 2009 plus a STEP increase... so basically in 9 years you will only get a step increase... and you're okay with that? And in those 6 years the other unions are going to get a chance to negotiate a better pay than what you guys have locked in. Now, who looks stupid if the other unions have a better bargain than HSTA?
on May 23,2012 | 10:57PM
who_dis_guy wrote:
All this BS and the ones that truly suffer are our children. Hawaii is becoming a sad place to live.
on May 23,2012 | 08:33PM
localguy wrote:
Another example of why schools and teachers in the Nei rank in the gutter when compared with the mainland. What was Will and the teachers thinking, voting on a withdrawn contract thinking this would be recognized by Neil. What a bunch of baboozes. Now we know why we will not get the $75 million of RTTP money. No way would the Fed give us the money now after this brainless stunt. This is what Will and the Teacher's do, fail to perform, fail to be professional. What a disgrace for the Nei.
on May 23,2012 | 09:54PM
oneindisarray wrote:
There are a whole bunch of posters on this board who seems to do something even more foolish than voting for a contract twice when the governor says publicly that the contract is no longer on the table (which does seem dumb on the surface)... you're taking a politician at his word. I'm rather amazed at all the people who think that this is the last possible thing we've seen having to do with this contract.
on May 23,2012 | 10:02PM
pizza wrote:
What is becoming apparent is the bad faith bargaining done by the Superintendent, the Board of Ed, and the Governor. They DO NOT have the best interests of the students and community in mind. What is wrong with the education in Hawaii is more and more lawyers and accountants in leadership roles. Yes, we need folks with those skill sets supporting us, but do we want the bean counters and litigators running our schools? I do not.
on May 23,2012 | 10:53PM
Anonymous wrote:
REVOTE on a non-existing agreement? Where on earth does LABOR LAW allow that? Only in Hawaii are people (and, they call themselves TEACHERS) willing to BEG for the crumbs that was previously thrown to them. Now, these very same teachers are BEGGING for the retracted crumbs that they previously refused. Isn't is scary.......these are the educators of our children of Hawaii. Auwe!
on May 24,2012 | 01:19AM
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