Labor board orders state to respond to HSTA ethics complaint

Wil Okabe
Wil Okabe

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an abrupt announcement, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board ordered the state to respond to a new ethics complaint filed Monday by the union representing Hawaii's public school teachers.

"The board does not want members of the public and the parties to have the impression the board's ability to hear this case or any other case has been compromised," board chairman James Nicholson said.

The complaint concerns a letter Gov. Neil Abercrombie sent to Nicholson on August 10.  HSTA president Wil Okabe alleges the letter "taints" the labor relations board's process by referring to issues pertinent to the dispute between the teachers' union and the state over the implementing of a new contract without the union's consent.

"They have to be impartial by hearing the case on both sides, from the state side as well as the HSTA side," Okabe said.

But in a letter to Okabe, Abercrombie defended his communicating with the board.

"Our letter merely put forward the suggestion that the parties mediate this dispute under the auspices of HLRB .  This is not unethical behavior," Abercrombie wrote.

Nicholson said public confidence in the board is important as it hears HSTA's prohibited practice challenge.  He put off that hearing until after the ethics issue is resolved.

The state has until noon Wednesday to file a response to HSTA's latest complaint.  A hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

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