HSTA reaches tentative contract agreement with the employer
Please participate in online ratification vote by June 9
News Release from HSTA, May 23, 2021
The following is a message from Paul Daugherty, HSTA Negotiations Chair:
On behalf of your Hawaii State Teachers Association Negotiations Team, I want to thank members for your patience, trust, and support as we dealt with an unprecedented and difficult bargaining year. We have been in constant negotiations with the employer since mid-March of 2020 when we had to quickly negotiate an agreement related to the shutdown of school buildings for the 4th quarter of the last school year. The relationship with the employer over the last 15 months has been strained, especially when we had to file prohibited practices at the labor board to bring them to the table to bargain the impact of COVID-19 on our members. Nevertheless, you all have remained steadfast in supporting each other and standing in solidarity as HSTA.
The coronavirus pandemic drastically changed HSTA’s plan for the 2021 successor contract. Our team had to pivot and we all had to organize and stand together in one voice to stave off the governor’s attempts to balance the state’s budget woes from dwindling tax revenues on the backs of state workers.
We’ve all been in a constant state of pivoting over the last year, changing our physical work locations and changing the ways we interact with students through full distance, hybrid, simultaneous, and full in-person learning, all while trying to keep ourselves, our families, and our students healthy and safe. Our 13,500 educators have met this challenge in powerful and professional performances under the most difficult circumstances.
In addition to these daily impacts, the HSTA Negotiations Team, with the assistance of mediator Tina Marie Littleton from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), helped to push the employer to reach a settlement in order to meet processing deadlines for increased EUTF contributions by the state for July and prior to the expiration of our contract on June 30, 2021.
I am pleased to report that we reached a tentative agreement with the employer over the weekend. Your bargaining team, the HSTA Negotiations Committee, and the HSTA Board of Directors overwhelmingly recommend your support in a vote of YES to ratify the agreement.
VIEW A COPY OF THE SIGNED TENTATIVE AGREEMENT AND RELATED DOCUMENTS
The serious and difficult realities at the bargaining table made this one of the most challenging negotiations I have ever been a part of in my 20 years on the HSTA Negotiations Committee.
The state’s shutdown due to the pandemic resulted in incredible damage to our economy and the state’s ability to balance the budget. Fortunately, there have been three separate legislative acts by the federal government to help address that economic impact, especially for schools.
Last March, Congress passed the CARES Act, which included funding for public schools, known as ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds. In December, the second relief package with ESSER II funds provided states and schools additional coronavirus relief. As a result, Gov. David Ige restored HIDOE budget appropriations and delayed planned furloughs by six months.
In March of this year, President Joe Biden and Congress approved the American Rescue Plan, which took furloughs and layoffs off the table entirely.
All of this directly impacts bargaining cost items. The influx into Hawaii of more than $4 billion in federal funds is the singular reason we are able to bring you a contract without any cuts to teachers’ base salaries. Because the public schools also received approximately $639 million of that federal relief, we are able to maintain the additional compensation already contained in our contract, such as supplementary pay for department heads, probationary bonuses, sabbaticals, and the hard-to-staff incentive differential for certain complexes should the Board of Education rescind shortage differentials.
While widespread access to vaccines and improving science about mitigating the spread of COVID-19 reduced the health risks for our members, the reality of the state’s dire financial outlook made this bargain very difficult. Gov. Ige took a position early on that bargaining units would not get anything different from other units. In fact, all the unions received an initial proposal of a 9.23-percent pay cut, which the employer didn’t back off of until very recently. The employer then maintained that they would only agree to status quo contracts with no increase in cost items. A number of other bargaining units settled prior to HSTA, further hardening the employer’s position.
This status quo position of the state also prevented us from securing additional non-cost items during this bargain. We are thankful that there is an understanding that if this tentative agreement is ratified, we will be able to hold discussions related to modifying and improving the current Teacher Assignment and Transfer Program (TATP).
We will also continue to pursue restoring the 21 hours of embedded professional development with the Board of Education since it was not funded by the Legislature.
While this status quo contract leaves much to be discussed in the future, we’re satisfied that the short two-year duration will allow HSTA to begin this process once more in a little over a year’s time with the next permanent superintendent.
In order to continue to keep our members and staff safe, we will be conducting the ratification using the same online voting system we used in February for HSTA leadership elections.
You should receive a letter at your home address with ratification voting instructions and a code around Tuesday, June 1. Voting will close on Wednesday, June 9, at 4 p.m. HST.
Please be on the lookout for this important mailer, take the time to go online to vote on the ratification, and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
In addition, the Negotiations Team will hold an informational briefing via Zoom for all Bargaining Unit 05 employees on Wednesday, May 26, at 4:30 p.m. Register here for the briefing.
If you have any questions or comments on this proposed settlement agreement, feel free to reach out to the team via this Google Form and we will try to address as many as we can at Wednesday’s briefing. Please note, there are separate fields to submit your questions and feedback.
VIEW A COPY OF THE SIGNED TENTATIVE AGREEMENT AND RELATED DOCUMENTS
I would like to thank President Corey Rosenlee and the volunteer members of the Negotiations Team for their flexibility and dedication to the process. They spent hundreds of hours on Zoom, giving up their personal time to review countless iterations of proposals and counter-proposals to get this contract settled.
Mahalo and aloha,
HSTA Negotiations Chair