HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - On the eve of a key hearing, the Hawaii State Teachers Association announced that it is filing a formal ethics charge against Governor Neil Abercrombie, Board of Education chair Don Horner and superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. The HSTA Board of Directors voted over the weekend to file the complaint with the State Ethics Commission.
This comes just days after the HSTA and the state appeared before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board for a hearing on the union's request for a temporary halt to the pay cuts and other conditions in the new contract the state imposed on July 1. The hearing on HSTA's prohibited practice complaint starts on Monday.
The union alleged that the governor sent a letter to members of the labor board after Wednesday's hearing, outlining to his appointees and prospective appointee his preferred outcome of their deliberations.
"We wanted to be very fair, the process to be very fair, so that they can make a judgement in regards to the case of the 'last, best and final' offer and to ensure that everything is above board." said Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
According to HSTA, Horner and Matayoshi signed off on the letter. The union accused the governor of trying to inappropriately influence the board.
"I think that the governor's letter taints the HLRB'S process because it has some implications." said Okabe.
The HSTA says it asked Abercrombie to have the letter withdrawn, but the request was ignored. The union said it received a copy of the letter from the governor's negotiator. The governor's office declined to comment on the filing.