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HSTA called mightiest U.S. teachers union

By Mary Vorsino


The head of the Hawaii State Teachers Association says he's "pleased" with the findings of a new national report that shows HSTA is the strongest teachers union in the nation.

"The strong record of HSTA speaks for itself," said Wil Okabe in a statement. "We have fought and won many of the significant professional standards enjoyed by teachers throughout the nation."

The findings come as the state's labor dispute with teachers is poised to enter its 16th month.

The report concluded HSTA "enjoys substantial financial resources, a large, unified membership and a favorable policy climate."

The union is also "actively involved in state politics, and — despite its local reputation for only moderate influence — it is the strongest state union in the nation," the report said.

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank, and advocacy group Education Reform Now, which has taken aim at teachers unions in the past, jointly released the report.

Amber Winkler, vice president for research at the Fordham Institute, said the study was not conducted for political purposes, but because "we saw a void in the literature."

"The point of this report was not to paint teachers unions in a negative light," she said. "It really is about these invisible ways that they can show power and use power."

She said Hawaii's coming in at No. 1 was a surprise, but she hypothesized Hawaii's single statewide school district — unique in the nation — may be among the factors behind HSTA's strong showing.

Of the ranking, she said, "It's not an absolute measure, but compared to other states, Hawaii probably has it better than most."

The report named Oregon's teachers union second strongest in the nation, followed by state-level unions in Montana, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

In his statement, Okabe said the findings of the report "may reflect that Hawaii's teachers refuse to allow the governor to impose an unfair collective bargaining agreement on us."

Okabe's statement was provided to the Star-Advertiser in response to calls for comment. He was not made available for additional questions.

The report ranked state-level teachers unions based on five areas: resources and membership, involvement in politics, scope of bargaining, state policies and perceived influence.

HSTA ranked high on all of those indicators, except for perceived influence. On that indicator it came in at 23rd in the nation.

For involvement in politics, HSTA ranked first in the nation. The report says the union has been a "major player" in Hawaii politics over the past decade and that its donations accounted for 1.5 percent of total contributions received by candidates for state office.


>> To read the report ranking the strength of state-level teachers unions nationwide, go to edexcellence.net.

In resources and membership, HSTA tied for third strongest in the country.

HSTA has been embroiled in a labor dispute since 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 September the two sides briefly entered federal mediation, but that ended with no agreement.

The "last, best" offer expires June 30.

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peanutgallery wrote:
HSTA needs to be dismantled. As other government employee unions their creedo of wanting as much as they can get, for doing as little as possilbe has totally derailed the country. The following philosophy describes their movement: "The folks who are getting free stuff, don't like the folks who are paying for the free stuff, because the folks who are paying for the free stuff can no longer afford to pay for both the free stuff and their own stuff. The folks who are paying for the free stuff want the free stuff to stop, and the folks who are getting the free stuff want even more free stuff on top of the free stuff they are already getting! Now... The people who are forcing the people to pay for the free stuff have told the people who are RECEIVING the free stuff, that the people who are PAYING for the free stuff, are being mean, prejudiced, and racist. So... The people who are GETTING the free stuff have been convinced they need to hate the people who are paying for the free stuff by the people who are forcing some people to pay for their free stuff, and giving them the free stuff in the first place. We have let the free stuff giving go on for so long that there are now more people getting free stuff than paying for the free stuff. Now understand this. All great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figured out they could vote themselves money from the treasury by electing people who promised to give them money from the treasury in exchange for electing them. Thomas Jefferson said it best: "The democracy (Republic) will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." The United States officially became a Republic in 1776, 235 years ago. The number of people now getting free stuff outnumbers the people paying for the free stuff. We have one chance to change that On Nov. 6, 2012. Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it. ELECTION 2012 IS COMING Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!"
on October 30,2012 | 02:27AM
false wrote:
Thank you for the LOL of the day. The HSTA has done nothing to secure a penny for teachers let alone make a difference in student achievement. Yell at us in meetings. Chant their esteem but when it comes down to making a dollar difference or scores acclaim, HSTA is worth a big fat ZERO. What is this article myth? Not even fantasy.
on October 30,2012 | 05:29AM
allie wrote:
true and let us face it: we are set to lose the race tot eh Top Dollars in 2013. Wonder if we have pay back the p[art that we already spent. HSTA needs to find a way to show they care about quality. Apparently they do not
on October 30,2012 | 07:24AM
kahu808 wrote:
Oh yes, HSTA is on allie's hit list.
on October 30,2012 | 08:22AM
DAGR81 wrote:
allie for governor...ha ha
on October 30,2012 | 09:13AM
dalawyer wrote:
SpEd student of the year!
on October 30,2012 | 09:25AM
kahu808 wrote:
More like lord, of the flies.
on October 30,2012 | 11:40AM
allie wrote:
I have been asked to run!
on October 30,2012 | 02:34PM
turbolink wrote:
Many people would like you to run...
on October 30,2012 | 04:29PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Yes, run away
on October 30,2012 | 07:00PM
DAGR81 wrote:
Run for what? And what stopped you?
on October 30,2012 | 07:02PM
Makaha_guy wrote:
This article is just hilarious.
on October 30,2012 | 03:15AM
tiki886 wrote:
Unions exist for the benefit of its members and no else! All that c rap about the 'keiki' is total c rap.
on October 30,2012 | 04:07AM
jomama wrote:
Top union in the nation, bottom school system. Any connection?
on October 30,2012 | 08:56AM
Bdpapa wrote:
This is a joke, right!
on October 30,2012 | 04:19AM
holumuahawaii wrote:
What is disconcerting is that the HSTA leadership believes the report. This report will undoubtedly increase the chances that the HSTA will act rashly in the future. Metaphorically, it is like when certain Western Indian tribes came to believe, were told by their shamans, that they were impervious to the white man's bullets and acted accordingly. It turns out that the shamans were wrong. Should the HSTA depend on this "report" even a little bit, and use it as a reason to strike, the teachers are going to suffer. The entire state will be harmed. The Fordham Institute is misinterpreting data, has come to some false conclsions. But the HSTA leadership wants so badly to believe it, that they do.
on October 30,2012 | 04:42AM
false wrote:
That is the funniest part of it all, they believe they are "holier" than the rest. Charmaine for them, but that's too good, Generic caseload would be better.
on October 30,2012 | 05:31AM
danji wrote:
As stated above HSTA plays politics. Will Okabe says that they won't let the governor get to them but HOW COME THE TEACHERS ARE WORKING FOR LESS PAY FOR THEY LAST THREE YEARS AND NOT OUT ON STRIKE???? iF THE UNION IS STRONG SHOULDN'T THE TEACHERS GET ALL THAT BACK PAY?? fACT WHILE THEY ARE WORKING FOR LESS PAY THEY ARE PAYING DUES TO THE UNION. Mr. Okabe you should resign your position and the position should not be filled with another former educator--LEAVE UNION MATTERS TO PEOPLE WHO CAN DO TGHE JOB
on October 30,2012 | 04:48AM
false wrote:
Wait until the contract year changes and there is no paycheck. Then we will all know what this union is worth.
on October 30,2012 | 05:31AM
allie wrote:
Okabe is intellectually weak.
on October 30,2012 | 07:25AM
DAGR81 wrote:
allie for HSTA executive director
on October 30,2012 | 09:14AM
grantos wrote:
you mean HSTA President
on October 30,2012 | 09:32AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Mazie is a top supporter of HSTA. Sort of all fits together, eh?
on October 30,2012 | 09:31AM
tiwtsfm wrote:
This is not something to be proud of. Our education is in shambles and our children are suffering. The HSTA does not have the intesest of the children in mind - only power and money for themselves. Our teachers should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen.
on October 30,2012 | 05:53AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 30,2012 | 01:08PM
poidragon wrote:
Foolish Mortal! Without the teachers in the classroom, you would have to teach your children on your own without the help of anyone with training and a passion to educate..............................hahahahahaha home schooling for all, teach your own dang brats for once, before sending them to school and see how you like it!!!!!!!!!!!!!
on October 30,2012 | 11:09PM
Steve96785 wrote:
This comment has been deleted.
on October 30,2012 | 05:58AM
bender wrote:
Isn't the answer obvious. Select a different union to represent the rank and file.
on October 30,2012 | 06:06AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Better yet, no need for any union at all. Public employee unions should be dismantled, civil service laws already exist to protect their rights. As for pay, like any other employer, you'll get paid what the employer is willing to pay for your services. Don't like it? What, no automatic pay increase every 2 years? Then go find another job that pays what you think it should be.... Good luck.
on October 30,2012 | 08:06PM
allie wrote:
why do teachers out here allow HSTA to demoralize and disgrace them in the public eye? As one high student at Kaimuki High told me, "My poorly educated teachers are just hired hands like the yard service...no different."
on October 30,2012 | 07:26AM
DAGR81 wrote:
allie for DOE director
on October 30,2012 | 09:15AM
allie wrote:
on October 30,2012 | 02:34PM
Anonymous wrote:
A side by side comparison ranking states by [1] union strength (as in this article) and [2] academic achievement as measured by national norm referenced test results (e.g. NAEP) would I suspect show an inverse relationship -- the stronger the teacher union, the poorer the level of achievement.
on October 30,2012 | 06:52AM
soundofreason wrote:
"HSTA called mightiest U.S. teachers union">> while Hawaii's education ranks towards the bottom. Coincidence? I think not. Most power with the least results of that power....whether you're a kid.......or a teacher. Nice.
on October 30,2012 | 07:00AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Ask Mazie - she has a longstanding love affair with the HSTA. Fact, baybee.
on October 30,2012 | 09:32AM
starlight wrote:
Good one!
on October 30,2012 | 10:15AM
soundofreason wrote:
"HSTA called mightiest U.S. teachers union">> If by "mightiest" you mean "fastest" to leave arbitration then.......yeah.
on October 30,2012 | 07:02AM
Publicbraddah wrote:
Yikes. If HSTA is the best, unions are in definite trouble.
on October 30,2012 | 07:05AM
thos wrote:
Surely you are not just now arriving at that conclusion.
on October 30,2012 | 07:09AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
on October 30,2012 | 11:05AM
McCully wrote:
Too bad this union got poor leadership.
on October 30,2012 | 07:18AM
allie wrote:
Okabe is known to be a joke in this town. Get a more intelligent leader!
on October 30,2012 | 07:41AM
DAGR81 wrote:
Recruit allie
on October 30,2012 | 07:06PM
HAL9000 wrote:
Weakest union in the mickey mouse league, and thus the strongest union in the pee wee league.
on October 30,2012 | 07:49AM
Anonymous wrote:
When are these people going to learn that the only time they should be "proud" is when students are learning what they need to learn? HSTA, DOE, BOE, UH admin, UH Board of Regents and the Governor are all absolutely clueless. Their work is NOT about them and what they do for themselves. I've never heard so many people supposedly focused on helping students worry so much about themselves.
on October 30,2012 | 07:50AM
americantaxpayer wrote:
What have the unions done to support our students education? Nothing. The unions have done helped improve the kids grades and improve the sad appearance of our schools.
on October 30,2012 | 08:55AM
Anonymous wrote:
...and they blame Lingle for the furloughs? HaH!
on October 30,2012 | 09:02AM
dalawyer wrote:
Nah...Super Ferry!
on October 30,2012 | 09:25AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
HSTA Motto: "Our students exceed the expectations of sharecroppers across all of Mississippi."
on October 30,2012 | 09:30AM
bully106 wrote:
unions exist for the benefit of the paid union leaders... not the members. it's time that grassroots members take over the leadership as originally intended!
on October 30,2012 | 09:39AM
lowtone123 wrote:
HSTA was strong under the leadership of Joan Husted and Roger Takabayashi. Under Okabe's leadership, not so much.
on October 30,2012 | 09:42AM
Allenk wrote:
So HSTA can pat themselves on the back? What about the stalled negotiations for the past 16 months? High contributions to political organizations? Low rating in perceived influence? Is this anything to crow about? What about student performance?
on October 30,2012 | 09:55AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
If it is about the ability to wreak havoc on the the state's educational system, I would not doubt this finding. I mean, how many states are so crippled by a union such as HSTA where the children are held hostage? Hawaii is the only state that has such a schizophrenic tendency in relation to its teachers. A past governor trying to balance the budget opted for furlough days on an already notorious one of the shortest school years in the nation (and we wonder why our scores are so low). That was her solution to save the state from having to lay off teachers. Then we raided the hurricane funds to pay the teachers and stopped the furloughs. Now the current governor is speaking up for the tax payers in standing up to the union and we have union supporters crying foul and leading tax payers to cry foul also (like the wolf leading the sheep). A big issue is teachers' accountability and medical coverage. The union (and thereby the teachers who man the union), of course, want more money when the state has none. What would the state raid the funds from this time? Of course, our tax dollars which means higher taxes on an already overtaxed population. A vote for the union is a vote for higher taxes. And anyone who takes this lightly and jokes about it will find his wallet smaller if the union gets its way. The union was for an increase in the excise tax. And that is what you will see if they get their way. That is why the governor's stand is so crucial to our budget and our wallets. We need to stand up to union and say, "Enough is enough!" Again, there will be misguided individuals who will support the union because of the slick ads posted by the union. But it is time to stand up to one the mightiest unions in the nation.
on October 30,2012 | 10:40AM
AhiPoke wrote:
If true, the public/taxpayers should be outraged and fearful. Public employees should never have been allowed to unionize. Unlike private worker unions, where there is true arms length negotiations, public worker unions are negotiating with the very same people who benefit by giving more and more away to them. IMHO, this is the primary reason why countries like Greece, Spain and the US are headed towards financial hell.
on October 30,2012 | 10:52AM
eastside808 wrote:
That may be true nationally but certainly the weakest union in the State of Hawaii is the HSTA. The HSTA has done nothing for the teacher the last 5 years. If the teachers were allowed to join another union, there would be a mass exodus out of HSTA. Maybe that should be in one of the amendments to our current laws to allow workers a choice of unions they could join en masse say every 6 years. I believe the unions will work harder for their members given this scenario.
on October 30,2012 | 11:01AM
jankenpo wrote:
Huh???? Who paid to get that report. "It really is about these invisible ways that they can show power and use power." Invisible and how....haven't seen nothing yet. Well, maybe excuses. " Fordham Institute, said the study was not conducted for political purposes,......." Which means it was. Okabe must be elated that he could jump on this report. The teachers deserve better.
on October 30,2012 | 11:39AM
sailfish1 wrote:
The teachers' labor dispute is going on 16 MONTHS - HSTA is a joke. This study is also a joke.
on October 30,2012 | 12:22PM
cojef wrote:
The below comment passed muster although incomplete. What I wanted to say is that the union brags about meaningless accolades and deny responsibilities for the poor ranking of Hawaii's students as compared on a national level base.
on October 30,2012 | 02:32PM
allie wrote:
Face it..these teachers don't want to be evaluated. When you consider their product, you know why
on October 30,2012 | 02:36PM
DAGR81 wrote:
allie for educator of the year
on October 30,2012 | 07:09PM
cojef wrote:
Accolades are claimed for what, a mea
on October 30,2012 | 02:28PM
Papakolea wrote:
Hawaii is the least contiguous state in terms of major segments of the population being on isolated islands. And yet we're the only state with a statewide department of education. If there is anywhere in the US that should have local school boards, it's Hawaii. And yet we continue to try and have centralized control and therefore have an education system at the bottom of the country. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting the same results, this is INSANE!!
on October 30,2012 | 07:34PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
I recall HSTA requesting the legislature consider a GE tax increase during the worse recession Hawaii has ever faced in order to avoid 5% pay cuts for teachers and other public workers. All the while, private employers were laying off workers in droves. I won't forget that....it shows who they really are.
on October 30,2012 | 08:21PM
SomebodyElse wrote:
Arrogance and ignorance and two powerful agents that shouldn't be mixed, yet the majority of these posts have both in droves. The one point I'll concede is the HSTA is horribly mismanaged and teachers have a serious PR problem. The whole picture isn't reported, it's not all good, but it isn't all bad either. If you knew what dedicated teachers were doing and dealing with, you might change your tune. If you really care about education, stop bitching about how poor it is and go make a difference with actions instead of your words. Not gonna happen, is it.
on October 30,2012 | 10:56PM
poidragon wrote:
:That is due to the fact that HSTA does nothing to gain it's finances except to tax it's captive membership and call it a union due instead of what it really is! What has HSTA rally done for it's members? Not much at all, 16 months with no labor contract to work with, walked out of federal mediation because of bruised union leadership ego's; failing to pass a labor contract on the first try and then pass the same labor contract on the second try knowing full well that it was no longer valid! These are the stuff that dreams are not made of but nightmares incarnate! It is way past time to give Will Okabe the boot and to disbar and disband the HSTA union and create something that will work for 'all teachers in the state of Hawaii' instead of just the ones working for the DoE!
on October 30,2012 | 11:05PM
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