The contract, which spans from 2023 to 2027, significantly raises entry-level pay.

Members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association voted Wednesday to ratify their new contract with the state, solidifying a cumulative $577 million toward their paychecks over the next four years.

Of the HSTA’s over 13,000 public school educators, about 6,400 voted in favor of the contract, representing 92% of ballots cast, according to a press release. It said union members voted in person at 31 polling stations statewide for the first time since 2017.

Over the course of four years, entry-level salary is set to increase from $38,521 to $50,325. Top-level salary is set to increase from $93,225 to $101,371.

DOE Superintendent Keith Hayashi speaks at a press conference with Gov. Josh Green announcing the contact agreement. Teachers overwhelmingly voted to ratify the deal. (David Croxford/Civil Beat/2023)

Unlike other public school teachers in districts around the country, Hawaii’s employees don’t receive automatic pay raises based on tenure length. Instead, teachers and administrators are paid based on a “class” and “step” system. 

“Class” is essentially determined by education level, where earning a graduate degree or completing professional development moves employees up to the next pay level. 

“Step” is analogous to years served, but with an important difference: instead of automatically increasing each year, step increases only happen if they’re included in contract agreements with the state.

The most recent contract spanned from 2021 to 2023 and didn’t contain any step increases. Paul Daugherty, the HSTA’s chief negotiator at the time, acknowledged that agreement was disappointing and blamed the pandemic’s economic consequences.

For the new agreement, the HSTA presented a rosier tone. It emphasized the bump in entry-level salaries and the addition of a new class level for those at the top of their pay grades, as well as a guaranteed day to do lesson planning should classes shift between in-person and virtual again.

Some concerns remained. Unlike their colleagues, employees with prior out-of-state experience still didn’t receive an adjustment to their pay schedule in response to years of salary compression, instead receiving a $3,000 lump sum. The HSTA says it pushed hard for this but the DOE was unwilling to budge. 

Civil Beat’s education reporting is supported by a grant from Chamberlin Family Philanthropy.

Help power our public service journalism

As a local newsroom, Civil Beat has a unique public service role in times of crisis.

That’s why we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content, so we can get vital information out to everyone, from all communities.

We are deploying a significant amount of our resources to covering the Maui fires, and your support ensures that we can pivot when these types of emergencies arise.

Make a gift to Civil Beat today and help power our nonprofit newsroom.

About the Author