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More than 2,000 teachers protest lack of contract at Capitol

By Nanea Kalani

LAST UPDATED: 6:13 p.m. HST, Mar 14, 2013

More than 2,000 public school teachers and their supporters converged on the state Capitol this afternoon to protest the lack of a new labor contract.

Teachers have been working under a "last, best and final offer" the state imposed in July 2011 that included pay cuts and a larger share of health insurance premiums. 

The state and teachers union are in negotiations for a 2013-15 contract.

"This sends a really strong message that we want to settle our contract now," said Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe.

The union organized today's "Stand Up for Public Education" rally as the teachers' labor dispute enters its 20th month. 

"It's encouraging to see so many people turn out because even though we kind of got screwed over, it shows that we're still willing to do whatever needs to be done for the students," said Nohea Goo, an eighth grade math teacher at Dole Middle School. 

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