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HSTA's actions jeopardize collective bargaining for all public employees

August 23, 2011

A message from HGEA Executive Director Randy Perreira:

Dear HGEA member,

You may be aware that the Hawaii State Teachers Association last month filed a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) after the employers unilaterally implemented a contract for public school teachers. HGEA has been monitoring this situation very closely, as it could have serious implications for the collective bargaining process for all public employees.

As a public-sector union, we have much to be concerned about. The path and the manner in which HSTA is attempting to resolve this contract dispute is troubling, to say the least. We and the other public sector unions remain concerned about the possibility that the HSTA's open fighting with the HLRB can lead to a decision that negatively impacts all of us, let alone the possibility that the Legislature will consider knee-jerk reaction legislation to change the bargaining process.

HSTA's desperate attempts to deflect blame include insinuating that HGEA conspired with the governor to limit their negotiations. Their attorney, Herbert Takahashi, actually claimed that the "favored nation" clause in HGEA's contracts interfered with HSTA's collective bargaining rights, suggesting we were part of a conspiracy to limit what the teachers could negotiate. This is an absurd and insulting suggestion -- that we would hurt our own members in a bizarre plot to negatively affect teachers. The fact is that in recognizing HGEA as the first union to reach a settlement, the governor offered "favored nation" status as a way to maintain parity among all public employees.

On Aug. 4, I was involuntarily served with a subpoena to testify at the HLRB hearing. This action came despite our own effort and request of HSTA to meet regarding their complaint where we could offer our help. I am one of more than 80 witnesses, who include the Governor, legislators and other union leaders. HGEA's attorney, James Koshiba, attempted to file a motion to suppress the subpoena out of concern that it would expose and jeopardize HGEA in any future negotiations. In response, HSTA's leadership successfully sought to have Mr. Koshiba barred from participating in the HLRB proceeding. As a result, on Aug. 17, the motion to suppress was filed by attorney Debra Kagawa on our behalf.

In taking a position that can jeopardize the future of the collective bargaining law, and attacking their fellow unions, the HSTA has run amok and is in danger of negatively affecting everyone in government employment.    

To their credit, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly filed a petition to intervene to preserve the right to strike for themselves and other unions. They, too, are deeply troubled by the actions of the HSTA leadership and want to ensure good-faith bargaining efforts can continue.

HGEA will continue to monitor this situation and do all that we can to ensure that your collective bargaining rights are not compromised.

In solidarity,

Randy Perreira
Executive Director

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