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HSTA considers mediation

By Mary Vorsino


The executive board of the teachers union will meet Monday to discuss whether to accept Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s offer to enter federal mediation in hopes of ending a 13-month labor dispute.

Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said this morning he was “open to the discussion,” but declined to say whether he personally supported the idea.

In a letter to Okabe this week, Gov. Neil Abercrombie wrote, “My proposal to utilize the FMCS (Federal Mediation and Concilitation Service) is not about establishing who is right or who is wrong, but rather to reengage HSTA in discussions which can lead to a resolution of the issues that separate us.”

The HSTA labor dispute began in July 2011, when the state unilaterally implemented a “last, best and final” contract offer for teachers that included wage reductions and higher health insurance premiums.

The union has argued the state’s imposition of a contract violated its members’ rights and collective bargaining laws. The state countered it had to act to avoid massive layoffs.

In recent months, the state has repeatedly asked teachers to return to the bargaining table, while the union believes a six-year agreement teachers had previously rejected, then approved in May should be honored. Abercrombie has called the agreement invalid and says a new deal needs to be negotiated. 

The lack of movement on the issues means teachers continue working under the “last, best” offer, which expires June 30.

Under the agreement union members approved in May, teachers would continue to take 5 percent wage reductions through June 30, before moving to a new salary schedule that recognizes teachers’ years of service.

The state Department of Education would also move to a revised teacher evaluation system linked to student performance. Teachers rated “effective” or higher would be eligible for annual raises.

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false wrote:
mediation sounds right. Otherwise this impasse will continue on for who knows how long. It's time for the union, teachers, and state to put this issue to bed and get on with their lives. Good luck to the teachers. They have a tough job.
on August 17,2012 | 09:40AM
CriticalReader wrote:
I don't get what the State's incentive is to negotiate or even talk. The State is paying what it wants. The teachers are teaching. The teachers won't go on strike because they can't afford to lose the income, and even if they do, the impact seems like it would be marginal.
on August 17,2012 | 09:50AM
AhiPoke wrote:
I agree. HSTA also has a history of not living up to their side of agreements anyway.
on August 17,2012 | 12:35PM
allie wrote:
it is worth a try. But let us tie raises into actual performance rather than time "served" or credits earned.
on August 17,2012 | 09:59AM
Steve96785 wrote:
In nearly every serious study measuring student performance, the highest correlation is teacher preparation as measured by credits earned in the subject area. Granted years of service may not be a good indicator of teacher performance, and the credits that should be counted should only be those directly related to subject area, but tying performance pay to HSA scores is completely irrelevant to any teacher in subjects such as art, music, phys ed, world languages, science or social studies that are not part of the exams. Bring in standards based end of course exams in every subject and tie student grades and teacher pay to the results, and I will fully support that. As long as test scores have no benefit or impact on students, their use is marginal at best.
on August 17,2012 | 12:10PM
Bdpapa wrote:
you know, that is the sad truth. Test scores are irrelevant in the broad education base. I really donʻt know how they are gonna do this without this favortism issue and political interference.
on August 17,2012 | 05:35PM
kainalu wrote:
If you care about someone, encourage them to enter any other field other than public-school teacher in Hawaii. Granted, there are those that simply need the job, contrarily, that's the level of teaching you can expect. There is still a significant amount of teachers that teach because it's their passion. But there comes a point when it's not worth it. My son's wife is a teacher, trying to be a young wife and mother at the same time. It's what she wanted to do all her life, it's why she got her degree from UH. LIke most of us, their family survives paycheck to paycheck. My daughter-in-law spent over $800 of her own money to supply her room and students throughout last year. She's already invested $400 this year, a week into school. Meanwhile, there's this obstacle and/or that political policy that hampers her abilities to teach. She's at a personal cross-roads in terms of whether or not she wants to continue with this thankless career.
on August 17,2012 | 11:16AM
allie wrote:
doe should pay for all supplies
on August 17,2012 | 12:01PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Thatʻs a start.
on August 17,2012 | 05:36PM
Steve96785 wrote:
Anyone note that almost exactly a year ago HSTA said that they were open to binding arbitration in response to an Abercrombie statement to that effect, only to have Neil rebuke them for even suggesting the idea. See Teachers union board OKs mediation, binding arbitration, top of the list of More From the Star-Advertiser, above. The Hawaii State Teachers Association board has voted to accept mediation and binding arbitration in hopes of ending a contract dispute more than a month long. Here is part of the text from 7 Aug 2011: HSTA informed the governor Saturday of its vote, saying that it understood the acceptance of binding arbitration "may result in an agreement which neither side finds completely satisfactory." HSTA President Wil Okabe said the vote was taken in response to comments that Gov. Neil Abercrombie made last week when speaking to a retired HSTA member on Hawaii island. During the 11-minute conversation, which was captured on video and posted on YouTube, the governor said he was "ready today … (for) mediation or whatever it is."
on August 17,2012 | 12:02PM
baileygirl9631 wrote:
I hope the gov never gives in. HSTA sucks.
on August 17,2012 | 02:46PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Binding arbitration with a no strike clause works for both sides.
on August 17,2012 | 05:37PM
CriticalReader wrote:
The HSTA is killing the reputation, likability, support for and trust in DOE teachers. They've managed to make them portray themselves as greedy ("we want more than all other government labor in the State"), not too bright ("we don't want this contract!. . . yes we do.. . . please. . . "), and unable to manage themselves (choosing Okabe as their leader)(in the midst of asking parents to trust their leadership of children).
on August 17,2012 | 02:23PM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Sorry teachers but you're on your own. When you reelected Okabe as your union head, it spoke volumes about yourselves. Also, the percentage of teachers voting was, in itself, very pathetic. How can you teach your students to get involved in their community if refuse to be role models?
on August 17,2012 | 02:37PM
akuman808 wrote:
Good post braddah! Agree on all your points.
on August 17,2012 | 03:19PM
Nesmith wrote:
The gov has The pressure of the Feds breathing down his neck. Make A for him amongst his Washington colleagues if the state of Hawaii loses the 75M grant. He needs to show he is trying by throwing the ball back in HSTA's court.
on August 17,2012 | 05:25PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Its all a time game. The longer he waits, the less the State has to pay.
on August 17,2012 | 05:38PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
First the union rejects the offer and dragged the whole negotiation and then they accept the offer after they realize that they weren't going anywhere and the finances have changed effectively changing the contract. The state is being generous in offering to go through another negotiation. But we all know HSTA's (teacher's) history and they will drag this one, too, with dramatics and PR commercials. One issue, though, with the pay raise implementation is that tenured teachers will want to move to areas where the affluent students are in order to get better results. Let's face it, teaching children whose first language is not English are more difficult to teach due to the language barrier. Some will say that is not so but it is just the fact of life. Yes, there are high achieving students in low income areas but the fact is the more affluent areas will have more resources available to them and will have the more prepared children. As a result, many more qualified teachers will move to those areas rather than teach children in outlying areas who are at a disadvantage. I am not saying that they are less than. I am just saying that they do not have the same resources and opportunities as children from affluent areas. I got tired of my children's teachers performance that I sent them to private schools. I saw a big difference in their performance and education. Ironically, their teachers' salaries in private schools were lower than the teachers in the public schools. Go figure that one.
on August 17,2012 | 07:01PM
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