The union and state have been in a standoff since June, when Gov. Neil Abercrombie and Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi announced they would impose a new contract for the state’s 12,500 public school teachers on July 1. The contract included a 5 percent pay cut and increase in health costs.
HSTA filed a labor complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board on July 8, and has been battling the state over what the union believes is a violation of collective bargaining rights.
One of its first requests was for the labor board to grant temporary relief from the pay cuts in the contract, until the case before the board is resolved. The board chairman said he would consider the arguments, but three months later has not yet issued an order.
Deputy Attorney General Dierdre Marie-Iha told Judge Rhonda Nishimura Thursday that HSTA is asking the circuit court to do what the Supreme Court already declined to do.
“You’re asking us to usurp the Hawaii Labor Relations Board’s decision on the merits of your case, because it’s still pending,” Nishimura told HSTA attorney Rebecca Covert at a hearing Thursday.
HSTA attorney Rebecca Covert said the union turned to the court, because it felt the labor board was taking too long to make its decision. If the board does eventually decide to grant relief, it will be too late, she said. Three months has already been too long.
Nishimura dismissed the case, on the grounds that she does not have the authority to interfere with the labor board’s discretionary rule in labor cases.
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