Gov digs in heelsGov. Ben Cayetano says he wants to continue negotiating with the Hawaii State Teachers Association to resolve a contract dispute over bonuses and is disappointed that the union has turned to the state labor board to do that.
Cayetano believes the state has
a strong case in asserting that
teachers' bonuses be paid
for 1, not 2 years
By Crystal Kua
"This is a case where we agreed to nine out of 10 issues or items, and on one there is a genuine dispute as to what was agreed to, and ... we will be saying to the board that this is an issue which indicates there was no meeting of the minds and the contract has not been consummated," Cayetano said upon returning to work from a mainland trip.
The governor says that if the state loses before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, the state will appeal to the Circuit Court.
The disagreement between the governor and the union is over a pay differential included in the recently negotiated contract, which was thought settled after a three-week strike.
Teachers with master's degrees and professional diplomas would receive a 3 percent bonus under that provision.
The union argues that the contract language gives them the bonus for this year and next year.
The state, however, argues that the contract language is in error.
The agreement reached at the bargaining table actually calls for the bonuses -- which now amount to $9.7 million -- to be paid only once.
Cayetano said he believes the state has a strong case, but if the board forced the state to pay the additional $10 million or more to fund a second year of bonuses, the state would probably end up making education and social service cuts to fund those bonuses.
"The likelihood is that we will appeal because I don't know where the money is going to come from," Cayetano said.
The HSTA filed a prohibited-practice complaint with the labor board Tuesday, asking the board to order the implementation of the contract that teachers ratified April 24.
Implementing the contract would give teachers negotiated pay raises and retention bonuses and carry out other provisions of the contract, including the 3 percent bonuses.
The union also has said it will appeal if the labor board rules in the state's favor.
The governor maintained his position yesterday that there is no contract to enforce because the state has not ratified or signed off on the agreement.
HSTA spokeswoman Danielle Lum said the union believes that determining whether a contract was reached is best left up to the labor board.
"That's why we're going to the HLRB," she said. "Enough he said, she said."
The governor said he had hoped that the dispute could have been hammered out at the table, and he is waiting for a counterproposal from the union.
"They have indicated to us that they would be open to continuing negotiations, and I had hoped that that's what we would continue to do," Cayetano said.
Lum said that the union is open to bargaining further.
"We won't shut the door on that," she said. "In fact, we welcome them to come back to talk to us."
Cayetano also suggested that a resolution could be worked out as the next round of contract negotiations opens later this year.
"There's another round of contract talks coming up, incidentally, for the next contract," the governor said. "Some creative minds could maybe fashion something that would be much better."
The union is also asking the labor board for damages including interest for the delay in implementing the agreement.
>> HSTA Web site
>> State Web site
>> Governor's strike Web site
>> DOE Web site