by Andrew Walden
Just days ago, the HSTA was telling the Governor's negotiators how much teachers "like their furlough days." Now the Hawaii State Teachers Association has cut the Governor out of the process and a "tentative agreement" to reduce teacher furlough days has been reached with Hawaii's failed Department of Education.
Responding to question on the Honolulu Advertiser "Hot Seat" blog Wednesday, HSTA President Wil Okabe wrote:
"I can't discuss the specifics of the tentative agreement until our negotiating committee and Board approve it, but it does reduce the furlough days. The agreement would be outside the master agreement and would not require another member vote. The Legislature would be involved in approving the funding for this agreement."
Board of Education spokesman Alex Da Silva confirmed the HSTA claim, telling the Star-Bulletin: "They reached a tentative agreement in concept to reduce furlough days."
It is not clear how many furlough days are restored in the alleged settlement, and the HSTA's Okabe also refused to answer questions about whether the alleged settlement will cost more than $50M.
Without re-opening the HSTA-DoE Master Agreement, teacher planning days cannot be eliminated. So it would appear that the HSTA and DOE have simply agreed to grab the $50M--or more--and use it to cut out some of the furlough days without any sacrifice on the HSTA's part. The hostage-takers have gotten together and are presenting a new ransom demand.
HSTA negotiators claimed that the Governor's $50M offer was $19.3M short. The DoE chimed in claiming that 2,500 employees would have to be laid off and robotics and after school events would be eliminated. ($19.3M /2500 jobs = $7720 per job.) They also complained that some of the money would go to successful charter schools instead of failing DoE schools.
Funding for any settlement would require a vote by the State Legislature and signature of the Governor. House Speaker Calvin Say has indicated support for a Special Session to vote on releasing the money from the Rainy Day fund. Say has indicated that a settlement must come about before December 31 in order to schedule a Special Session. The regular session of the Legislature begins January 20.
The alleged settlement between the HSTA and the DOE came days after the HSTA purposefully sabotaged furlough talks with the Governor's office. The Advertiser December 20 describes how the HSTA did it:
Linda Smith, Lingle's senior policy adviser, said the state negotiating team thought progress had been made in talks with HSTA on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, HSTA representatives told state negotiators they were concerned about the $19 million shortfall that restoring the furlough days would create.
"When we came in on Wednesday morning, the first thing we are hearing from HSTA is they can't consider restoring the furloughs because now this is going to mean their brethren, other people in the DOE, are going to lose their jobs. That was the first expression," Smith said.
Smith said one of the seven-member HSTA bargaining team had told state negotiators that teachers "liked their furlough days," and that if the governor's proposal were taken out for a vote, it would be rejected.
"That made us realize we were at an impasse," Smith said.
Okabe responded: "Our teachers do not like furlough Fridays. If they did, why would teachers have voted to voluntarily give up their planning days at 184 schools a few weeks ago?"
Okabe's statement is only confusing to those who cannot discern the difference between individual teachers and the union which falsely claims to represent them. Individual teachers have acted to reduce furloughs in 184 of Hawaii's 288 DoE schools. The union conspired with DoE management to bring furloughs about.
The most logical scenario: HSTA negotiators were lying to Smith when they said their members like furlough Fridays. Making such a ridiculous statement in negotiations was a tactic necessary to create a rupture with the Governor's office. Then the HSTA and DoE make their own agreement on terms more favorable to both. The agreement is then presented to the Legislature as a fait accompli.
If anybody is fooled, the HSTA's transparent ruse would boost the chances of putting a union-owned Democrat back in the Governor's seat.
Although it is impossible to know without seeing the details of the so-far secret agreement, the most likely objective of both the HSTA and the DOE is to stampede public opinion and the Legislature in a money grab on behalf of the failing 'education" system.
When the contract terms become public, we will learn whether the Legislature--where other unions have an ownership stake--will go along with the HSTA getting a pain-free $50M boost while the HGEA, UPW, UHPA, police, and firefighters get chopped. It is likely that key Legislators are now being briefed on the contact language.
One thing is certain. Protection of the waste, fraud, and corruption within the DoE remains sacrosanct.
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Furlough negotiations: $50M ransom offered, but unions balk at releasing hostages
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DoE Procurement audit: Millions wasted by "fraudulent unethical behavior"
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Gov. Lingle announces $50M plan to get children back to class
Furloughs: Advertiser sides with “sustainability” billionaires against “Save our Sports”
Furloughs: How Unions and the DoE aim to co-opt protesting parents
Furloughs vs Layoffs: The union no-solution strategy
Hawaii budget crisis: Adult Supervision vs Team Chaos
HGEA vs HSTA: The coming legislative budget crisis
Good News: A small elite no longer runs Hawaii -- Bad News: Mufi thinks he can change that
Chaos in the Department of Education
Randall Roth: In Hawaii Education, The Buck Stops Nowhere
Randall Roth dissects Hawaii's failed Department of Education
Roth's full 45 page analysis: http://www.hsblinks.com/mu