Saturday, February 9, 2002

Pay raises still
in limbo for
‘reclassified’ teachers

The status refers to college credits
earned while teaching school

By Lisa Asato

Ten months after the public school teachers union ratified its contract with the state, some teachers are still waiting to receive pay increases and staff development days that it was promised, a union official said yesterday.

Joan Husted, executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, said the union filed a grievance in December with the state Department of Education's labor relations division to compel action on the 19 outstanding provisions.

"There is no state effort to block implementation of the contract," DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen said in response. "If we're made aware of individual problems, especially with (schools) Superintendent (Pat) Hamamoto, we're in a position to follow up and see where the problem is."

Knudsen said some of the outstanding provisions, such as the so-called "reclassification" that gives teachers higher pay for earning college credits, have been partially implemented. But things such as a backlog in processing paperwork and disagreements over interpretation take time.

"In some cases, teachers are being reclassified and pay is being readjusted," he said. "But there probably are some that their pay scale has not yet been affected."

Meanwhile, a ruling Thursday by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board on a disputed portion of the contract had Husted saying she was "quite pleased."

It "provides teachers a victory on very important points" and "ordered a differential (bonus) for each of the two years," she said.

In response, Gov. Ben Cayetano released a statement saying HSTA's claim that the ruling is a victory because teachers are guaranteed a bonus in the second year was "pure nonsense." He said it was a waste of union and tax dollars to take it to the board in the first place because the state had offered to provide the bonus over one or two years, as long as it did not exceed $9.7 million.

The contract ratification last April ended a three-week-long strike by public teachers. A disputed portion of the contract -- 3 percent bonuses for teachers with advanced or professional degrees -- remained for the labor board to decide because the state and union could not agree on whether the bonuses were to be paid for one or two years of the two-year contract.

The board's ruling calls for the state to pay bonuses for the first year of the contract, but sends the state and union back into negotiations for the second year.

Husted wants to see all the provisions implemented, not just the bonuses. The bonuses are expected to be paid in late spring.

Husted said she was heartened by Hamamoto saying at a Board of Education meeting Thursday night that she wanted to know what schools are having problems with implementing contractual provisions and why.

"The superintendent inherited this mess. ... I know she's trying hard to get it resolved," she said.

Husted added, "We still have some serious disagreements on the language of the contract."

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