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Sunday, April 22, 2001



[ TEACHER STRIKE ]


Strike logo


State gives
HSTA offer

The teachers union burns
the late-night oil considering
the state's proposal in hopes
of ending the strike

UH deal leaves some unhappy


By Crystal Kua
Star-Bulletin

The Hawaii State Teachers Association board and union negotiators were meeting to consider a new offer from the state late last night.

However, it was uncertain if the new proposal would lead to an end to the state-wide strike which has canceled classes for about 183,000 public school students for more than two weeks.

The HSTA board and negotiators were at union headquarters, where lights were on and the parking lot was full.

One union official exiting the building predicted it would be a long night.

State and HSTA leaders met in separate caucuses yesterday at the Capitol. No face-to-face talks were scheduled as of early evening.

"There is an offer. We did it informally. We're going to make it formal depending on how they (the Hawaii State Teachers Association) respond," Gov. Ben Cayetano said after leaving the state Capitol yesterday afternoon.

Cayetano, who was at a dinner in Waikiki last night where he received an award, would not give specifics of the state's proposal.

"I can't be discussing these things in detail because every time I do that or any time anybody does that, things get screwed up," he said.

He also would not predict if an agreement could be reached this weekend.

"Don't know," he said. "I thought we were going to do it but it takes two to settle."

After talks broke off at 4:45 a.m. yesterday, HSTA chief negotiator Joan Husted expressed hope for a settlement.

"I think there's been significant movement," Husted said as she and other members of the union team left the federal building with their packed-up belongings. "It's been a good day."

Negotiations were moved from the Federal Building, where both sides have held meetings aided by mediator Ken Kawamoto since last week, because scheduled electrical work on the building could cause power outages.

"The parties are talking about what it takes to settle. There's lots of elements of it so we've been dealing with all those elements," said Husted.

Teachers went on strike April 5 after talks broke down over pay raises.

The union said that Gov. Ben Cayetano wasn't putting enough money in the pot for raises.

In the last offer made public, the union had called for raises totaling $187 million.

The governor, who calculated the union's initial 22 percent wage demand at $295 million, said the state couldn't afford what the union was asking for.

In its last offer made public, the state proposed $93 million in raises.

Public school teachers earn between $29,000 and $58,000 a year.

The union has said that a contract must include salary increases for all, step movements and retroactive wages.

The governor has refused to include retroactive wages in the deal and said this past week that previously settled contracts with other public employee unions don't have retroactivity.

The union said that if a settlement could be reached last night, school could resume as early as Tuesday with teachers going back to prepare classrooms tomorrow.

The Department of Education earlier announced that all schools, with the exception of the one on Niihau, will be closed to students tomorrow, even if a settlement is reached over the weekend.

"Our board has taken the position that the (picket) lines will not come down until it (a contract) gets ratified," Husted said.

"When it does settle, how fast can we get 13,000 copies (of a tentative deal) out to our teachers and get polling sites? If things work well ... then we ratify on Sunday."

The union has reserved the Stan Sheriff Center and other locations until Thursday for a possible ratification vote.

If ratification doesn't occur until tomorrow, then classes won't resume until Wednesday.

Further pressure to settle the strike could come tomorrow, when U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra has a hearing scheduled on the state's effort to comply with the Felix consent decree to provide mental health services to special needs students.

Ezra has threatened to intervene if the strike threatens the state's efforts to comply with the consent decree.


Star-Bulletin reporter Leila Fujimori
contributed to this story.



>> HSTA Web site
>> State Web site
>> Governor's strike Web site
>> DOE Web site


University of Hawaii

UH contract leaves
some unhappy

But UHPA's negotiator says
the settlement cannot take
care of everyone's wants


By Treena Shapiro
Star-Bulletin

There may be some unhappy faces tomorrow when the University of Hawaii faculty begins a week of meetings and voting on 10 campuses statewide on a new contract after a two-week strike.

John Wendell, a professor at the UH-Manoa School of Accountancy, says he feels betrayed by the UH Professional Assembly collective bargaining committee, which overwhelmingly approved a $2,325 flat-rate increase for the first year of the contract, which goes into effect July 1.

For faculty making less than $58,000 a year, the flat rate is higher than the 4 percent increase offered by the state before the strike. But Wendell, who earns $92,300, says he ended up with $1,367 less than he would have had if he had been paid for the two weeks he was on strike.

In the second year of the contract, all faculty will be given across-the-board 6 percent pay hikes, which Wendell said leaves him only $490 behind.

"For making that sacrifice, I end up making less than I would have if we hadn't gone out on strike," he said.

UHPA executive director J.N. Musto, chief negotiator for the union, said he believed that the act was as fair as it could be, given the amount of money they had to work with and the nature of compromise. "The settlement doesn't mean that everybody gets what they want," he said.

Musto pointed out that in 1989, the lower-paid faculty voted to ratify a four-year contract that gave them a 27 percent increase on average, but gave professors at the highest rank a 48.7 percent raise because they had fallen significantly behind the national average.

He added that lecturer's fee schedules were so low at the time, they were given a 66 percent pay hike.

The union represents a diverse faculty with a wide range of salaries that spreads out over 10 campuses.

"Each has its own needs, and sometimes you have to focus on one more than another," Musto said.

The contract is only a first step to bringing salaries into a competitive range, he said. "I appeal to everybody in evaluating the act with a long-term vision," he added.

Wendell said he will probably vote against ratification, not because he does not sympathize with the lower-paid faculty, but because he feels that the union should have been straightforward in explaining what they were bargaining for.

However, he said, "I don't want to see us go out on strike again. The students have suffered enough."

Students who spent their weekends yesterday in class to make up for instruction missed during the strike agreed.

Marketing major Linda Wong is taking time off from work to attend weekend classes. "I guess there isn't really much options," she said.

Not all her classes will have extra sessions. "One class is trying to ... pack as much into a lecture as possible," she said.

Laurie Nakama, 23, noted that her added microbiology class "is not in my top 10 things to do on a Saturday."

Taylor Wise-Harthorn, 19, said she never expected to go to school seven days a week, but after her first make-up history class, she said, "it's not as bad as I thought it would be."



University of Hawaii

UH Professional Assembly


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