The state agreed to 10 “concessions” in its effort to get the Hawaii teachers union to agree to a “last, best and final” offer that included pay cuts and furloughs. And while the union’s board of directors ultimately rejected the plan, the state did not withdraw the 10 items when it unilaterally imposed the offer on July 1.
That’s according to Board of Education member Jim Williams, who participated in the contract negotiations that eventually fell apart. Williams testified before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board last week as part of the “prohibited practice” complaint filed against the state by the Hawaii State Teachers Association.
The hearing is to determine whether Gov. Neil Abercrombie violated teachers’ constitutional right to collective bargaining when he imposed the new contract.
During questioning by HSTA attorney Herb Takahashi, Williams said he viewed the 10 items as concessions by the employer. He said these items were rejected by the HSTA board on June 21. But he said that the union’s negotiators had tentatively agreed in April to a 1.5 percent pay cut and furloughs as well as a higher employee share of health coverage.
Still, the state chose not to withdraw the 10 items.
“We felt in good faith we had offered these, but on the other hand, we offered them in all sincerity — these were things that HSTA wanted,” Williams testified. “We felt the best spirit of what we were trying to do would be to include these items, not withdraw them.”
When the state imposed the offer, it had only released the basics of what it entailed:
1.5 percent reduction in teachers’ salary schedule and acceptance of leave without pay on certain non-instructional days for a total temporary wage reduction equivalent to 5 percent;
50-50 split of employer/employee contributions for health benefits; and
Increased preparation time for teachers
Beyond those, some of the other concessions included:
An extension of recruitment/retention incentives for hard-to-staff locations
Drug and alcohol testing on “reasonable suspicion”
Changes to the “work time distribution” within work weeks
The concessions are official pieces of evidence in the union’s labor complaint. Here’s a copy of that exhibit: