New hope in teachers’ labor dispute, or just hype?

It could be naive, but I’m going to take the offer of the Hawaii State Teachers Association to enter into mediation with the state in their continuing contract dispute as a sign of progress and not more posturing.

The teachers union is currently pursuing legal action against the state after Gov. Neil Abercrombie and schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi imposed the state’s “last, best and final” offer — a 5 percent pay cut and increased medical premiums — when negotiations hit an impasse.

It’s in nobody’s best interest to have the courts settle this dispute, and it’s encouraging that the union now says it’s open to mediation after the governor had said the same thing in informal comments last week on the Big Island.

According to Abercrombie, the state had reached a handshake agreement with HSTA negotiators along the lines of the contract imposed, only to have it rejected by the union’s board without putting it to a vote by teachers.

This suggests state and union negotiators were at least very close at one point, and it’s puzzling that HSTA never made a counteroffer stating its objections to what its negotiators had agreed to and indicating what it would take to satisfy the board.

Such a counteroffer should be the first step in any productive mediation process.

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10 Comments on “New hope in teachers’ labor dispute, or just hype?”

  1. Guido Sarducci Says:

    It was Abercrombie who was posturing–and put his foot in his mouth while doing so. The HSTA is happy to call him on it because they can only benefit from binding arbitration.

  2. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    Although I am not now and never have been anti-union for either the public or private sector, perhaps it is time once again to place the public employee union concept on the ballot as a Constutuional Amendment. The right to organize came out of the 1968 Constitutional Convention.

    HSTA is now 40 years old. For a detailed recounting of its history, click

    Life & Times Change – the majority of the people now living in Hawai`i were not even born – or were just kids – when the union first began to get organized and go up against the government.

    Jack Burns was Governor at the time although George Ariyoshi had moved into the Governoir’s office during the initial neogitiating period.

    Although I am sure there are some folks here who feel that the right to organize is a core right, but others do not place it in the same category as protection against discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, etc.

    Let’s have this 21st Century discussion.

  3. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Looks like the near term economic environment is going to deteriorate a bit, eh?

    Maybe we should be counting our pennies.

  4. Mike Hu Says:

    It is the American educators (and their unions) that have created the American education system.

    the reason the responsibility for its failures falls mainly on their shoulders is that they have demanded more money and benefits for those results — which are famously worse than the third-world and emerging countries paying much lower wages under substandard conditions, yet achieving much greater results.

    The American education system is a world-class failure and has to be abandoned — and in that void, successful education enterprises will arise — as they’ve always done, under the most dire conditions. Obviously, throwing money at the present education system with the same people in charge, is not the solution but the problem. These educators have no business teaching — and have to move on to those lucrative comparable worth jobs they have sacrificed themselves for the wrong calling in life.

    We need to import these teachers who can produce amazing results under adverse conditions, and let these American educators do whatever it is they think they are the experts at — and can be successful at, rather than doing the same things over and over and over again (which is to demand ever higher pay for obvious failures), and expecting a different (successful) result.

    We need to start from scratch — but we don’t have to, because there are already countless successful private schools doing a better job with less, and we just need to replicate that model, while the government does what it can do successfully — but not education which is their proven failure. We need to move on find some other jobs for these “teachers” to do.

    Maybe something in recycling.

  5. el guapo Says:

    Wrong course of action, Doc. The change needed is the deletion of the requirement in HRS 89-4 that requires the deduction of union dues from nonmember government employees. The union influence will be reduced and it will be by the choice of the employees.

  6. Nanette Says:

    Is it mediation or (per Civil Beat article) binding arbitration? There’s a big difference.

  7. David Shapiro Says:

    Statement from Abercrombie, Matayoshi:

    “Since negotiations with Hawai’i State Teachers Association began last fall, we have been committed to finding a way forward. This included offering mediation, which was turned down by HSTA negotiators.

    “Negotiations via the media are not productive. The HSTA filed its complaint with the Hawai’i Labor Relations Board (HLRB) and we respect that process. We continue to be open to mediation through HLRB.

    “It should be made clear that mediation is different from arbitration. Arbitration, which we have never offered, is not included in Hawai’i’s statutory collective bargaining process with the HSTA.

    “Our focus remains on supporting students, teachers, parents, principals and staff to move public education forward.”

  8. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    The people voted to give public employees the right to organize and to enter into negotiations with their employers concerning salaries, working conditions, and benefits.

    The people are the ones to camcel their 1968 decision or to confirm it – not 75 legislators.

  9. el guapo Says:

    Doc did you bother to read HRS 89-4? The government employee unions get their power from taking dues from all employees, basically without their consent.

    If the requirement that union dues be deducted from non-member government union employees is deleted, many of the current union members will opt out because they don’t like paying dues and not getting anything in return. Without the revenues from dues, the unions will become irrelevant. Give the employees a chance to do the right thing and they will do it on their own.

    Leave the option for collective bargaining in place as protection to the employees that the state and counties will treat the employees fairly.

  10. shaftalley Says:

    government unions.what a joke.

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