Friday, November 16, 2001

Teachers push
for DOE to
implement contract

The delay stems from a continuing
dispute over bonus payments

By Crystal Kua

Benjamin Parker Elementary teacher Vaughn Tokashiki said his school was ready to use four additional staff development days won in the last teachers' contract to take a day in November to improve their reading program.

But the school cannot do that because they had not received word to implement the contract, Tokashiki said.

"I worked hard for (the contract), and I would like to see it implemented," Tokashiki told the Board of Education.

Public school teachers like Tokashiki went before the school board last night to push the Department of Education to implement their collective-bargaining contract, much of which still has not been carried out.

"We want you to live up to your agreements and commitments," said Jan Turner, president of the Central Chapter of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. "We are patient but our patience is wearing thin."

The delay in implementing the contract, which ended a statewide teachers strike in April, stems from the ongoing hearings before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, Superintendent Pat Hamamoto said.

The labor board is hearing complaints filed by both the state and the HSTA over a 3 percent bonus payment for teachers with master's degrees and professional diplomas.

Hamamoto said that just before the hearings the Department of Education was advised by attorney David Fairbanks, the private attorney representing the state, not to implement the contract until he was sure the state's case before the labor board would not be hurt.

That is because Fairbanks did not know how the bonuses "would affect the other parts of the (labor) contract," Hamamoto said. "Now he's advised it's OK to move it along."

Fairbanks gave the department the green light yesterday morning, Hamamoto said.

What was not known last night was whether a 6 percent differential for teachers with doctoral degrees would be implemented, Hamamoto said, because of the similarities to the master's degree payment.

Hamamoto said that some portions of the contract, such as payment of $1,100 retention bonuses, were carried out before the department received the attorney's advice to stop.

"We started to implement and he said, 'Wait,'" she said.

Hamamoto said the teachers will get paid in the Nov. 20 paycheck for the pay raises, missed retention bonuses and other payments due under the contract.

"Quite a lot will go through," Hamamoto said.

HSTA Executive Director Joan Husted said the teachers went to the board because the board is a party to the contract.

"It's time for them to step up and tell the Department of Education, 'Get it implemented -- all of it except for what's before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board,'" Husted said.

The union plans to meet with Hamamoto to set a date on when the contract language will be implemented, Husted said. If that deadline is not met, the union plans on filling a grievance, she said.

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