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Hawaii teachers overwhelmingly ratify new contract with raises

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    The teachers are voting on a proposed labor contract that includes a nearly 14% raise over four years at the McKinley High School Cafeteria. These are some of the many public school teachers casting their contract ratification votes.

Hawaii public school teachers overwhelmingly voted in favor today of a four-year labor contract that will boost their pay by 13.6 percent over the next four years.

Ninety-eight percent of teachers who cast a ballot today voted to ratify the deal, the 13,500-member Hawaii State Teachers Association announced. Nearly 8,000 HSTA members voted, according to the union.

“Our goal from the start was to establish a fair and equitable contract that offers professional pay and improves working conditions to attract and retain the best and the brightest into the classrooms to enhance student learning and give our keiki the schools they deserve,” Corey Rosenlee, the union’s president, said Thursday night after the votes were tallied.

The contract calls for annual pay raises through a combination of pay grade step increases and across-the-board 3.5 percent raises in alternating years. A spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige said the wage increases will cost an estimated $115.4 million.

Under the contract, a beginning licensed teacher will earn $47,443 at the start of next school year and end up making $53,177 at the end of the contract. Pay for HSTA’s most senior teachers — who will receive $1,500 bonuses in lieu of step movements — will increase to $91,950 over the life of the contract.

Under the deal, the state also will increase its share of health insurance premiums.

Teachers began casting ballots after the school day ended today at 30 polling sites across the state.

At McKinley High School, where teachers from 32 Honolulu-area schools were assigned to vote, several teachers said they were looking forward to bigger paychecks.

Social studies teacher Shaun Kamida, who’s in his fourth year of teaching at McKinley, said he has to supplement his teacher salary with a second job at a supermarket, where he works most nights until 11:30 p.m.

“It’s not always about the pay, but pay is important,” said Kamida, who voted in favor of the contract. “I’m very grateful that it is a lot better than what was originally offered to us. We’re getting actual pay raises into our base salaries.”

In earlier rounds of contract talks, state negotiators had proposed annual 1 percent lump-sum bonuses for teachers.

Today’s ratification vote allows for the Legislature to fund the settlement by a fiscal deadline scheduled for tomorrow night.

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