Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Suit seeks millions
in back pay for
substitute teachers

The lawsuit was filed on Maui
on behalf of almost 5,300 people

By Gary T. Kubota

WAILUKU >> A Maui attorney has filed a class-action lawsuit against the state on behalf of nearly 5,300 substitute teachers in Hawaii, claiming they are owed a total of several million dollars in back pay.

The lawsuit claims that the state has violated state law by paying them less than the $142.07 daily pay for starting teachers, said David Garner, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Garner said substitute teachers are now receiving $116.31 a day, which is the pay for instructors and not teachers.

Attorney Eric Ferrer said the lawsuit, filed Friday in Maui Circuit Court, challenges an opinion by the state Attorney General's Office that substitutes are supposed to receive the same wage level as instructors.

Ferrer said the amount of pay substitutes should be receiving is based on a formula that was enacted in 1996, a time when there was no pay category for instructors.

He said based on his research, he believes the legislative intent of the 1996 law was to compensate substitutes at the same daily rate as starting teachers.

Garner, who has worked as a substitute for 10 years on Maui, said the lawsuit seeks retroactive pay for at least two years and perhaps as far back as 1996.

He said based on preliminary research, he figures the back pay could total more than $3 million a year.

Earlier this year, state education officials set a uniform pay scale based on pay level for instructors after receiving complaints that substitute wages had not kept pace with teacher salaries as required by law.

Substitute teachers are not members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association and do not receive health and retirement benefits.

The Laborers International Union of North America, Local 368, is attempting to organize substitute teachers into a bargaining unit.

Garner said a meeting on Maui with the union is scheduled at 6 p.m. tomorrow at 811 Nalu St., Suite 102, in the Wailuku Industrial Park.

Laborers International Union of North America
State Department of Education

E-mail to City Desk


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