Categorized | Education

Update on HSTA negotations

Statement from Wil Okabe, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, regarding negotiations (dated Dec. 10)

Today, HSTA resumed negotiations with the State. Unfortunately, the third bargaining session was cut short as the State declared its offer expired, since HSTA could not accept the offer in its entirety.

The State’s two year, $49 million economic package, paled in comparison to the over $100 million in wage losses teachers struggled to endure as they helped the State over the past 3 1⁄2 years move towards economic recovery.

Now, as the State is realizing surpluses in excess of $300 million, HSTA is being offered 2% increases for each of the next 2 years while the State has already guaranteed members of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) 3% for each of the next 2 years.

While the State has indicated that all affected government workers would have their salaries restored to 2009 levels, UHPA members will enjoy a reimbursement of all pay cuts taken during this same time period.

HSTA shared some preliminary results of its teacher poll which indicates that teacher retention is at risk if there are no improvements to teaching conditions and compensation. After sharing this information, HSTA was disappointed that the State withdrew its offer, and said it would reinstate its July 31, 2012 offer, with its updated economic offer.

Part of the State’s offer also required teachers to take a blind leap of faith by agreeing to an evaluation system that has not been fully developed or defined, yet would determine all future compensation and job security. A major concern has been over the heavy use of student test scores to measure teacher effectiveness. No Child Left Behind has clearly demonstrated that over reliance on student test scores puts undue and unfair pressure on students without providing for a well-rounded education.

HSTA has also questioned whether the DOE has fully planned and budgeted for implementation of all phases of the Effective Educator System. HSTA referred to national reports that caution against rushing into a new system without ensuring that the funding and supports are in place. The State’s current implementation timeline is to roll out a statewide pilot beginning next school year despite concerns raised throughout the state.

There were many points of agreement in the State’s offer. However, rather than continue working on the tough issues together, the State in an “all or nothing” position, withdrew its proposal requiring the parties to start once again.

The parties have tentatively agreed to resume bargaining in early January.

BOE member sends letter to HSTA president Wil Okabe:

Why does HSTA refuse to meet until Jan. 11, 2013?

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

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,” Williams wrote. “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 Dec. 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” represents the same financial package offered as part of the Dec. 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 5 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)

* 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 Dec. 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 Dec. 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 percent (both years) pay increases that were in the settlement proposal,” wrote 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 Dec. 19, 20, and 21; however, HSTA did not agree to meet until Jan. 11, 2013.

Williams Letter Summary of Settlement Offer

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