Categorized | Education

Abercrombie responds to HSTA’s letter


Gov. Neil Abercrombie has responded to a letter received by the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) last night.

HSTA president Wil Okabe sent a letter that notified the governor of HSTA’s intention to seek ratification of the January 2012 proposed agreement that was previously rejected by its members.

Prior to this letter, negotiations have been ongoing based on HSTA’s Feb. 28, 2012 proposal and the State’s March 19, 2012 settlement offer.

Abercrombie said:

“What Mr. Okabe has proposed to HSTA members is a decision made solely by HSTA leadership. This is entirely an internal union action in which we have had no participation. The letter that we received from HSTA last night was unsolicited.

“According to the Attorney General the agreement which was rejected in January 2012 has no legal standing. In addition, in February, HSTA submitted a comprehensive proposal, which has not been withdrawn.

“We look forward to crafting an agreement with the HSTA to be submitted to teachers for ratification that is clear, current, and correct.

“As the school year ends, we appreciate the work that our teachers have done for student achievement and we look forward to resolving this labor dispute with their union.”

The complete letter from HSTA:

Dear Governor Abercrombie,

After careful deliberation, I wish to inform you that the HSTA Board of Directors has accepted the previous tentative settlement agreed to in January 2012 and has decided to hold of our membership to ratify that settlement, or to pursue other action.

As I have previously and publicly acknowledged, HSTA rushed a ratification vote of the proposal which we had reached in good fath with BOE Chairman Don Horner, Tammi Chun from your office and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Following the rejection by the teachers, results of our internal polling and by the Castle Foundation indicated that teachers lacked the information and time to consider the agreement.

We are taking careful steps to remedy this by holding a series of membership informational meetings throughout the state.

This decision is driven by the urgency to preserve the $75 million Race to the Top grant for Hawaii. We have an unquestionable mutual interest to secure the federal grant for the benefit of Hawaii’s children. Much of the reason the U.S. DOE placed Hawaii’s Race to the Top grant on “high risk status” was the lack of a collective bargaining agreement to demonstrate true stakeholder support.

We are hopeful this well be the first step in rebuilding trust.

Wil Okabe
President, HSTA

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