BOE Member Sends Letter to Okabe: “Why does HSTA refuse to meet until January 11, 2013?”

Former Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) President Jim Williams yesterday sent a letter to current HSTA President Wil Okabe asking for clarification on Mr. Okabe’s recent public statements on negotiations.

President Wil Tanabe

President Wil Tanabe

Mr. Williams currently serves on the Hawaii State Board of Education (BOE) and is chairman of the Human Resources Committee. He is one of the two Board votes on the Employer negotiations team, and has participated in negotiations since joining the board in April 2011.

“Less than two years ago you as (HSTA) president and I as (HSTA) Executive Director worked together to put an end to the “Furlough Friday” fiasco that was the biggest issue before us as I began my service,” wrote Mr. Williams. “Now, as a voting member of the Employer negotiations team and a member of the Board of Education, I feel compelled to ask you some questions about the current negotiations between HSTA and the Employer and related to the teacher demonstrations that are being held periodically.”

On December 10, 2012, after HSTA did not accept the state’s settlement offer the State made a proposal to HSTA for increased salaries. This proposal for “Salaries (“2nd Amended Proposal ‘W”) represents the same financial package offered as part of the December 5 settlement offer. This proposal represents $49 million of new compensation from state general funds and is $11 million more than any previous offer made by the State or considered by teachers. The salary breakdown is:

  • Two percent raises for all teachers in each year of the contract: July 1, 2013 and July 1, 2014;
  • Restoration of the temporary five percent wage reduction in teacher compensation currently in place;
  • Restoration of full work year of 190 days (elimination of days of Directed Leave Without Pay), and
  • Future pay increases, starting July 1, 2015, will be subject to an evaluation rating of “effective” or “highly effective” based on evaluations beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

Since the last negotiation meeting on December 10, 2012 this offer for increased compensation has been “on the table” for review and discussion by HSTA leaders and its members.

“At the conclusion of our discussions on December 10, after HSTA stated its unwillingness to accept the Employer settlement offer, the Employer spokesperson formally handed across the table a revised salary proposal including the same 2% (both years) pay increases that were in the settlement proposal,” wrote Mr. Williams. “Did the HSTA negotiations team inform you of the amended salary proposal? If you were informed, how can you say that the Employer withdrew our proposal, when virtually everything in the settlement offer, including the salary change, remains on the bargaining table?”

The state remains committed to negotiating with HSTA as soon as possible to reach a resolution that results in a ratified contract. The state proposed to continue negotiations on December 19, 20, and 21; however, HSTA did not agree to meet until January 11, 2013.

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