Wednesday, September 19, 2001

Hawaii State Seal

State to implement
teacher raises

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board
will settle the dispute
over teacher bonuses

By Crystal Kua

Gov. Ben Cayetano has agreed to implement the pay raises, retention bonuses and other undisputed sections of the teachers contract and let the Hawaii Labor Relations Board settle the disagreement over advanced-degree bonuses, an attorney for the state said this morning.

"The governor will immediately implement that, those provisions other than the ... bonus issue which will remain before the board," David Fairbanks, a private attorney representing the state, said after today's Labor Board hearing.

"I think the governor is probably putting the machinery in motion right now."

A signed stipulation is expected to be presented to the board on Friday.

"It's wonderful news," board chairman Brian Nakamura said. The board has set Oct. 22-24 to hear the remaining issue.

Cayetano said today that the state will not appeal a decision by the board on the disputed bonuses and that the contract will be funded.

"This is what we offered in the first place," he said.

The teachers union and the state thought they had settled the contract after public school teachers went on strike for three weeks in April.

But implementation of the contract was held up over a disagreement on a 3 percent bonus intended for teachers with masters degrees or professional diplomas.

The state says it agreed to a one-time bonus while the union says the written contracted language calls for the bonus to be paid twice, during each year of the remaining two years of the contract.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association and then the state filed complaints with labor over the issue.

Cayetano's complaint had asked the board to enforce the oral -- not written -- agreement between the state and the teachers union during negotiations that ended a three-week statewide strike in the spring.

Cayetano says the union has refused to bargain in good faith, breached the collective-bargaining agreement, and refused to comply with state law covering written agreements, according to the state's complaint.

The filing of the state's complaint came after the HSTA filed its own complaint on Aug. 14.

The union is asking the labor board to implement the written agreement, ratified by its members on April 24.

The governor and the state's negotiating team, however, have argued that the written provision does not embody what was agreed to at the bargaining table, which was a one-time payment.

State officials said a one-time bonus would cost $9.7 million. Under the written language, the state would be paying close to $20 million.

Vernon Yu, the HSTA attorney, said he also filed a motion to compel the state to implement the undisputed sections of the contract.

Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca contributed to this report.

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