Monday, April 16, 2001


UHPA HSTA strike logo

Strike talks

Striking teachers will
go to court to prevent
the state from canceling
their health benefits

By Treena Shapiro
and Rod Antone

The Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state are set to resume negotiations this afternoon in an attempt to reach a settlement and end a strike by 13,000 schoolteachers.

Joan Husted, lead negotiator for the teachers union, said she had been asked by federal mediator Ken Kawamoto not to discuss the status of the negotiations. So, when asked yesterday whether she expected a settlement, she said simply, "We're working on it."

Events leading up to the 4 p.m. session with Kawamoto include an address to community leaders by Bob Chase, president of the National Education Association, at the Pacific Club at 7:30 a.m., a rally at the Kapiolani Park Bandstand at 10:30 a.m. and a court appearance at 1 p.m., when the union will argue for a preliminary injunction to prevent the state from canceling health benefits for striking teachers, Husted said.

The strikes by HSTA and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly have shut down public education across the state since April 5.

With six school days already lost, the strike threatens to keep public schools closed through a second week, with the exception of Niihau Elementary, which reopened last Wednesday.

Concerned about the strike's impact on special-education students protected by the Felix consent decree, U.S. District Judge David Ezra has threatened to intervene if the strike is not settled by the end of the week.

The negotiating committee representing 3,100 University of Hawaii faculty members will return to the bargaining table tomorrow at 9 a.m. Nine hours of talks on Saturday brought the parties closer but failed to yield a settlement.

Leaving negotiations at 2 a.m. yesterday, UHPA Executive Director J.N. Musto delivered a prepared statement signed by himself and the state's chief negotiator, Davis Yogi, which said, "The discussions were productive, and we came closer in agreement in some areas, but the discussions led to no new agreements."

Yogi had little to add when he emerged several minutes later. In terms of pay raises for faculty, he said that he was not sure about the numbers and added that in addition to straight wage increases, other issues, such as reductions in community college course load, would have to be considered.

"Some of the proposals that we're talking about has some cost to it. We're talking about workloads, so that has to be factored into the total picture," he said.

Yogi said he expected to spend yesterday, his one day off between negotiations, "at home, sleeping, playing with the kids. It is Easter."

Gov. Ben Cayetano will participate in a live Internet chat about both strikes at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Hawaii Public Radio's Beth-Ann Kozlovich will moderate the discussion.

It is recommended that anyone wanting to participate in the discussion visit the Web site today to confirm their computer is configured properly and to submit questions, which will be also be accepted during the actual broadcast.

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

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