The public school teacher’s union in Hawaii may prepare for a vote to strike, or at least continue to challenge legally a contract offer imposed in July if members do not ratify a proposed six-year pact today. Hawaii State Teachers Association President Wil Okabe said that while he remained optimistic that the tentative agreement will be ratified, the union will be ready with options if the deal is rejected.
“We expect a positive ratification vote,” he said.
In a letter to teachers Wednesday, Okabe said the vote “will chart our course for the next several years.”
“The HSTA board believes that the contract before you is far better than what any other public sector union has achieved. That doesn’t mean you have to vote to ratify the contract.”
Okabe told members if a majority of teachers vote “no,” the union’s options are to live with the two-year, “last, best and final” contract offer the state imposed in July, strike “to force the state to make us a better offer this year” or continue with a prohibited-practice case that is before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.
Teachers will begin voting on the proposed contract at 3 p.m. today at polling places statewide, and results are expected as early as 9 p.m.
Teachers have had mixed opinions on the contract, with some raising concerns about the move in July 2013 to a performance-based system that rewards “effective” teachers with raises.
This is another step in the seemingly endless battle between the teacher’s union and the state. Hawaii teachers and all other educators are severely underpaid, especially if you look at what teachers around the rest of the nation get paid.
Combine that fact with ongoing insurance premium price hikes and the fact that cost of living in Hawaii is so overpriced, you can see that it is truly unfair what public teachers in Hawaii get.
Hopefully there will be no strike, as that is the last thing that the public school educational system in Hawaii needs.
Portions of this article were taken form the Star Advertiser