H.S.T.A. files complaint against state; hopes for negotiations

Wil Okabe
Wil Okabe

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii State Teacher's Association filed a challenge Friday night, hoping to convince the state to go back to the bargaining table for this year's contract.

HSTA representatives sent the 37 page Prohibited Practice Complaint to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, saying the state violated the State Constitution. Plus the HSTA representatives believe the state's negotiators acted in bad faith, when the new deal was forced on the union.

This all stems from the state unilaterally implementing its "last, best, and final" offer on teachers, when the union's contract with the state expired last week Thursday. Under the forced labor agreement, teachers take a 5 percent salary reduction through wage cuts and furloughs, and also pay 50 percent of the contributions for health benefits.

Friday, HSTA President, Wil Okabe, said, "Today's filing is not about pay cuts or health benefits. It's about the process, and the rights of employees to bargain collectively.This particular challenge that we are going to bring to the H.L.R.B. affects every union in the state of Hawaii. This is an action that is unprecedented. This is something we need to challenge because it will affect the hotel workers, electrical workers, carpenters, office staff, all unions, because if they can implement it in this way, it will have major ramifications on collective bargaining in the state of Hawaii."

The union hopes the H.L.R.B. will stop the state from implementing the new contract. It's also asking Governor Abercrombie to personally go back to the bargaining table to negotiate with the union.

Wil Okabe wouldn't speculate on the possibility of a teacher strike. You may recall, the teacher's union endorsed Abercrombie when he ran for governor. It now hopes that he will return the favor.

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