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State, HSTA agree to mediation for teacher contract talks

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The Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state have agreed to enter into mediation talks to help reach a new contract agreement for public school teachers.

The union made the request Monday, according to a joint statement issued this afternoon by the union and state Department of Education.

The statement said Gov. Neil Abercrombie and representatives of the DOE and the state Board of Education have agreed to mediation.

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board approved the request Wednesday, according to HSTA President Wil Okabe.

Teachers have been working under a “last, best and final offer” that the state imposed in July 2011. It expires June 30.

The parties are negotiating a 2013-15 contract.

Under the state’s collective bargaining law, a statutory impasse is declared by Feb. 1 of a year in which an existing contract is set to expire.

A provision of that law allows the parties to choose to enter into mediation, subject to approval by the Labor Relations Board.

A spokeswoman for the DOE declined to comment further.

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