The dispute is over whether they had the authority to unilaterally implement a new contract for the state’s public school teachers on July 1. They say they were forced to impose the contract because negotiations had reached an impasse, but the union says the state declared impasse prematurely and violated teachers’ collective bargaining rights.
The union’s ethics complaint alleged that a letter from Abercrombie, Matayoshi and Horner to the labor board chairman requesting mediation in the matter was “a misuse of position and an attempt to secure an unwarranted benefit.”
The union cited Hawaii Revised Statutes, Section 84-13, which prohibits public officials and employees from using their official position “to secure or grant unwarranted privileges, exemptions, advantages, contracts, or treatment, for oneself or others.”
In its five-page order dismissing the charges, the commission explained that there is insufficient evidence supporting the union’s claims, and “no allegation or evidence of an attempt to gain an unwarranted personal benefit.”
The ruling is a minor blow to the union, which has dug in for a long battle before the Labor Relations Board and is still waiting for a ruling on whether its members will receive temporary relief from pay cuts implemented in the new contract.
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