Former HSTA head asks why union won't meet until Jan.

State: Proposed to continue negotiations on Dec. 19, 20, 21

 UPDATED 12:18 PM HST Dec 13, 2012

Former Hawaii State Teachers Association President Jim Williams sent a letter to current HSTA President Wil Okabe on Wednesday asking for clarification on his recent public statements on negotiations including why HSTA refuses to meet again until Jan. 11.

Williams currently serves on the Hawaii State Board of Education and is chairman of the Human Resources Committee.  He is one of the two board votes on the Employer negotiations team, and has participated in negotiations since joining the board in April 2011.

"Less than two years ago you as (HSTA) president and I as (HSTA) Executive Director worked together to put an end to the 'Furlough Friday' fiasco that was the biggest issue before us as I began my service," wrote Williams.  "Now, as a voting member of the Employer negotiations team and a member of the Board of Education, I feel compelled to ask you some questions about the current negotiations between HSTA and the Employer and related to the teacher demonstrations that are being held periodically."

On Dec. 10, after HSTA did not accept the state's settlement offer the state made a proposal to HSTA for increased salaries, according to the Department of Education.  The DOE says this proposal for "Salaries ("2nd Amended Proposal 'W'") represents the same financial package offered as part of the Dec. 5 settlement offer.  This proposal represents $49 million of new compensation from state general funds and is $11 million more than any previous offer made by the state or considered by teachers.

The salary breakdown is as follows:

The DOE says since the last negotiation meeting on Dec. 10, this offer for increased
compensation has been "on the table" for review and discussion by HSTA
leaders and its members.

"At the conclusion of our discussions on December 10, after HSTA stated its unwillingness to accept the Employer settlement offer, the Employer spokesperson formally handed across the table a revised salary proposal including the same 2% (both years) pay increases that were in the settlement proposal," wrote Williams.  "Did the HSTA negotiations team inform you of the amended salary proposal? If you were informed, how can you say that the Employer withdrew our proposal, when virtually everything in the settlement offer, including the salary change, remains on the bargaining table?"

The DOE says the state remains committed to negotiating with HSTA as soon as possible to reach a resolution that results in a ratified contract.  The state proposed to continue negotiations on Dec. 19, 20, and 21; however, HSTA did not agree to meet until Jan. 11, 2013.

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