Teachers question Governor over lack of contract

Teachers question Governor over lack of contract
Published: Oct. 30, 2012 at 10:03 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 30, 2012 at 10:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Teachers are still teaching, students are still learning but the frustration is growing over the teacher's contract.

Negotiations between the State and the Hawaii teachers union has stalled again and some teachers are talking strike.  Teachers have started recording "open letters" to the Governor Neil Abercrombie and putting them online.

"I'm angry and I'm tired of you," said Doug Robertson, Kaleiopuu Elementary School Fourth Grade Teacher, in a video he posted on YouTube. "Don't make this about how much teachers care about their students. You obviously have no idea what it means to care about the people you're supposed to be helping."

"Why are you not working with us? Why are you allowing your bravado to stop progression of a contract? I don't want to hear that we are asking too much because it doesn't take much to give respect," said Kellee Kelly, Third Grade Teacher, in a video she posted on YouTube.

Those are two videos of Hawaii teachers expressing their frustration with Governor Abercrombie blaming him for the contract stalemate.

"Now we have the deep water horizon of contract negotiations. You continue to offer less and less, worse and worse and more insulting deals. Your poison spilling out onto the education and negotiation environment polluting it," said Robertson, in the video.

The videos are part of a grassroots effort to raise awareness and momentum for Hawaii Teachers.  Others have picketed the Governor's events and got Senate Candidate Mazie Hirono to pose with their signs.

The teachers are angry because they're working under a contract they didn't approve and federal mediation ended without an agreement.  Almost two years later failing to strike a deal could lead to a strike itself.

"I want you to value public education like I do. The way you say you do. I want you to do what you promised when you were elected. Action against you is gaining momentum on the part of the teachers. Mr. Abercrombie I am prepared to strike," said Kelly, in the video.

"You are making me choose to step away from my students and I hate that. But I hate the idea of a future where we don't do this more," said Robertson, in his video.

"I felt like a message coming directly from a teacher not coming from the union, not coming from a spokesman, just coming from someone who is in it, and doing it and feeling it might make a little bit more of an impact," said Robertson, in an interview in his classroom.

Governor Abercrombie did not comment on the teacher's videos but his office does say:  "The State would like to engage in collective bargaining with HSTA.  Collective bargaining is not a process in which the Governor can deal directly with teachers, it only affords the State to negotiate with HSTA, which has been difficult at times as HSTA has not been responsive to the Governor's request to continue mediation."

The governor's office has also listed its own timeline of events and explanations.  To read more from the State's perspective click here.

To see Doug Robertson's entire video click here.

To see Kellee Kelly's entire video click here.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.