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.

County of Hawaii Reaches Furlough Agreement With HGEA

Media Release:

County of Hawai`i Mayor Billy Kenoi today announced a new two-year agreement with the Hawai`i Government Employees Association that continues a limited county furlough program to save an estimated $2.1 million per year.

The agreement calls for HGEA members to accept furloughs of one day per month for the two-year period that began July 1, 2011. That equates to a pay reduction of 4.615 percent from pay levels in effect before furloughs first took effect last year.

HGEA members accepted two furlough days per month during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2011.

The new, scaled-back furlough program will better serve the public by allowing county facilities to remain open more days this year, Mayor Kenoi said.

“This is a fair agreement that reduces costs and prepares us for the uncertainties ahead,” Mayor Kenoi said. “It is a part of a larger effort to move the county to more solid financial ground, and to position us for the future.”

The new agreement with HGEA retains the existing 60-40 employer-employee health insurance premium cost split, Mayor Kenoi said.

“This agreement carefully balances the interests of both the public and public employees,” Mayor Kenoi said. “We are asking public workers to pay more each year as health insurance premiums increase, and that burden weighs most heavily on our lowest paid employees. This agreement strikes a fair balance on health care costs.”

Under the new agreement, the county will impose the first furlough day of the new fiscal year on Friday, July 29. Starting in August, the furlough days will be imposed on the first Friday of each month for the rest of this fiscal year, and will continue in fiscal 2012-13.

East Hawaii Veterinary Center Sued By Equal Employment Opportunity Council For Sexual Harassment, Retaliation

Co-Owner Responsible for Vulgar, Offensive Slurs to Female Staff, Federal Agency Charges

Press Release:

East Hawaii Veterinary Center, LLC, a veterinary clinic in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, violated federal law by sexually harassing, firing and/or forcing out a class of female employees due to their gender, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed yesterday.

Since 2005, at least six female employees, ranging from receptionists to a veterinarian, were subjected to extremely offensive, vulgar comments geared solely toward female staff by a co-owner of the clinic, according to the EEOC. On a near-daily basis, the co-owner insulted the women by calling them “worthless,” “whores” and other extremely vulgar epithets, and generally treated the women differently. The male staff was not subjected to such insults and hostile behavior.

Despite the company’s lack of an internal policy against discrimination, the EEOC asserts that one receptionist complained about the harassment to a different co-owner, who acknowledged that the behavior was inappropriate, yet took no action to stop it. Ultimately, the EEOC contends that the offending co-owner fired at least three of the victims and forced the others to quit.

Sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit in U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii (EEOC v. East Hawaii Veterinary Center, LLC, Case No. CV 10-00559-BAE-LEK). The suit was filed after the EEOC first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement. The EEOC’s suit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for the class, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination at the East Hawaii Veterinary Center.

“Supervisors and top managers have a higher duty to ensure a workplace free of hostility,” said Anna Y. Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office, which has jurisdiction over Hawaii. “Women have the right to work without the utter degradation displayed here, and the EEOC will fight to ensure that employers pay for such injustices.”

Timothy Riera, local director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office added, “It is important that owners and managers alike set the standard for a discrimination-free environment and ensure that employees are adequately trained to prevent, address and correct sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination.”

Open since 2003, the East Hawaii Veterinary Center is a locally owned and operated clinic which provides medical and emergency services for small, avian and exotic animalson the Big Island of Hawaii, according to the company’s website.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov .

Nice to Be Working… But These Damn Kids!

Well just got back from my first day back to work.  Only had to bring one kid to the counselors office and only assisted removing another from class.

I don’t remember kids being this hyperactive when I was in school…

Have a lot to catch up on… will write more later.