The Hawaii State Teachers Association‘s actions before the Labor Relations Board have once again backfired and resulted in a scathing ruling from the board.

An overblown attempt by the union to strike the state’s opposition to HSTA’s request for relief from salary cuts amounted to an “egregious and reckless disregard for the truth in this case,” according to the board ruling on a procedural motion, issued Sept. 2.

The union and state are in the middle of a dispute about whether Gov. Neil Abercrombie violated teachers’ collective bargaining rights when he unilaterally implemented a new contract on July 1 after declaring an impasse in negotiations. The contract included a 5 percent wage cut and an increase in teachers’ share of health costs.

The fight has failed to pick up much steam, though, because the attorneys keep getting bogged down in what seems like manini details — in this particular motion, whether a certain legal phrase was included in unsworn statements. But this motion has real-world impact on the case, because the union’s attorneys may have undermined their own credibility by failing to accurately report even the small details.

On July 18, the union filed a motion requesting relief from those cuts, until the legal battle is resolved. It then amended its request on July 25.

The state in its Aug. 1 response pointed out that a declaration included in that amendment by HSTA President Wil Okabe neglected to follow the legal form affirming that what he had to say was true and correct “under penalty of perjury.”

The wording of his declaration was “I, Wilfred Okabe, hereby declare as follows.” But the brief preamble left out what the state believes is critical wording — that the declaration was made under penalty of perjury.

On Aug. 3, HSTA fired back with a motion asking the Labor Relations Board to strike the state’s response from the record. According to an affidavit by HSTA attorney Rebecca Covert, Okabe’s statement included the language about perjury. One of the six signed declarations included in the state’s formal response omitted that same critical legal language, according to her affidavit.

But that wasn’t true. The declaration in question was that of Jim Halvorson, state deputy attorney general and lead attorney for the state in the ongoing labor dispute. Halvorson’s statement did in fact include, at the beginning, “under penalty of perjury,” and it was Okabe’s that did not.

The labor board in its ruling found that Covert’s sworn affidavit misstated the facts about both Okabe’s and Halvorson’s declarations.

The board also slammed the union’s lead attorney, Herb Takahashi, for neglecting to correct the factual errors in Covert’s affidavit during a hearing about the matter.

“The material misstatements by Ms. Covert in her sworn affidavit, which were not corrected by Mr. Takahashi at the August 10, 2011 Board hearing, demonstrate an egregious and reckless disregard for the truth in this case,” states the written ruling denying the union’s request to strike the opposition’s response. “These statements appear intended to mislead the Board…”

Read all the documents for yourself:

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