HSTA breaks off contract negotiations with state

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than a month after both sides entered federal mediation, the Hawaii State Teachers Association has informed the state it is no longer participating in contract negotiations.

In a statement, Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said he was "disappointed" by the HSTA's decision.

"The Federal Mediator has informed us that HSTA is ending their participation in mediation," said Gov. Abercrombie. "I am very disappointed that HSTA once again is not willing to engage in discussions that could resolve outstanding issues. For many months, we repeatedly asked HSTA to come to the table to have meaningful and good-faith negotiations.  When they refused to participate in negotiations, we agreed on Federal Mediation as a way to move forward and resolve our differences."

"We continue to remain willing to engage in mediation.  It is impossible to negotiate with people who refuse to talk."

HSTA President Wil Okabe responded to the Governor's criticisms, saying "…It is unfortunate that the governor has resorted to media statements commenting on the status of federal mediation."

"The parties agreed in advance to two simple ground rules: mediation would be limited to 10 days, and that no statements would be made to the media, unless such statements were made jointly," said Okabe. "The joint statement we offered earlier today was rejected. It simply said 'HSTA and the State Employer had a series of informal mediation sessions with federal mediator which concluded October 2 with the parties unsuccessful in reaching an accord.'"

"We embarked on federal mediation with genuine sincerity, with the awareness that the teachers' contract will greatly impact the future of public education in Hawaii.  Yet, how can we reach an agreement over such complex issues, when the people we are dealing with cannot even keep to a simple agreement over ground rules."

"It appears the governor prefers the addressing the media over direct talks with us," said Okabe. "In the coming weeks, HSTA will provide our teachers and the public a more detailed accounting of what led up to the breakdown in bargaining with this governor."

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