Monday, April 2, 2001


Hawaii State Seal

DOE handbook
details strike plans

An internal document aims
to keep a walkout from
inflicting wounds

HGEA raises get House GOP backing

By Crystal Kua

Should striking teachers be allowed to use school bathroom facilities?

What should be done when an employee who must report to work is not allowed to cross the picket line?

What is the best way to get on with the task of educating Hawaii's children once a strike is over?

Those are the kinds of questions answered in a document not meant for public consumption but which has policies that affect virtually anyone who comes into contact with the public schools during a strike.

The Department of Education's strike handbook, labeled "Contingency Strike Plan," is considered by DOE officials as an internal working document not available to the public, but a copy obtained by the Star-Bulletin shows how schools will generally handle operations before, during and after a strike.

The public is bracing for the first statewide teachers strike since 1973 on Thursday. In the event of a strike, the Department of Education is planning to close schools for two days.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association, which represents Hawaii's 12,000 public school teachers, is demanding a 22 percent raise. The state's proposal offers an average 12 percent with entry-level teachers receiving a 20 percent increase and senior teachers 10 percent.

No face-to-face talks took place over the weekend, but there was informal contact over the phone.

Other developments include:

>> The Hawaii Labor Relations Board could decide as early as today whether to uphold prohibited-practice complaints filed against the HSTA by the state.

The complaints accuse the union of bargaining in bad faith and giving out illegal picket line instructions. If the complaints are upheld and remain unresolved, teachers could be prevented from striking.

>> The labor board is also scheduled today to take up a request by the DOE for an additional 15 special-education teachers to be declared essential workers, meaning they would have to report to work in the event of a strike.

The labor board has already granted the state's request that 322 special-education teachers be declared essential if a plan is devised on how those workers will be used. The labor board is looking over the plan that was turned in last week.

>> Tonight, the teachers union is planning to hold a vigil near Washington Place.

The department's 70-plus-page strike plan is directed at district superintendents and principals to carry out. It begins with a plea from state schools Superintendent Paul LeMahieu, who worries about the potential long-lasting impact a strike could have on relationships.

"It is important meanwhile for school leaders to maintain respectful, understanding and amicable relationships with all employees and school constituents to the extent possible while still performing their operational responsibilities before, during and after any strike," he wrote in a memo.

To maintain a "climate of respect" for all striking workers, school principals, after meeting with picket captains, may make certain accommodations as long as no problems occur.

Those accommodations could include allowing strikers to picket on a portion of school property if no sidewalk or safe place is available outside of school property. Teachers could also be allowed to use school bathrooms if there are no public facilities nearby and may be allowed to use the school parking lot.

The department also has guidelines when it comes to vendors, employees or others who need to cross picket lines. They include designating a delivery gate for vendors, advising other employees how to cross the picket line and calling for assistance from the principal, picket captain or police in the event there are problems in crossing.

Some sections of the strike plan cover information that the public has heard from the media, including what will happen to services such as A+ after-school program, transportation and school-related activities.

HGEA raises get House GOP backing

Star-Bulletin staff

The 19-member House Republican caucus is backing the Hawaii Government Employees Association arbitrated pay raise.

The public position is key because Gov. Ben Cayetano previously has threatened to veto the pay raise if it is approved by the Legislature this year.

Democrats in the House and Senate have said they supported the raise, but the GOP needed to also support it if the HGEA was to have a veto-proof majority in the House.

"We support wage increases for the HGEA members because these increases have been previously agreed upon through final and binding arbitration. These raises are well deserved," said Rep. Galen Fox, (R-Waikiki) GOP leader. He urged that the white-collar union help develop "guidelines and policies for privatization of certain governmental functions ... for greater efficiency."

The HGEA was awarded the raises, estimated at 14.5 percent at the end of last year's legislative session, but Cayetano has insisted the state can not afford them and they were not properly approved.

>> HSTA Web site
>> State Web site

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