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Unions and DOE employees blindsided by newly released guidance from the DOH

September 17, 2020

Despite ongoing assurances from the Department of Education that they will consult with the Unions on changes in any policy or process affecting employee relations, once again principals, school staff and our Union found out about new changes during a live news conference this morning.

Because our Union members were blindsided by the information released in today's news conference, the following testimony was submitted at today's Board of Education meeting:

Relating to Update on Metrics to Monitor and Evaluate the Department of Education’s Comprehensive Plan for 

Reopening Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year

The Hawaii Government Employees Association, AFSCME Local 152, AFL-CIO, was informed of the DOE’s plan to use newly released guidance from the Department of Health AFTER this morning’s press conference and only minutes after the DOE employees were informed. This is unacceptable. As the exclusive representative of over 7,000 DOE employees, the DOE is in violation of HRS Chapter 89 and the collective bargaining agreements for its failure to consult and make every reasonable effort to consult and consider our input, along with the input of other affected parties, prior to effecting changes in any major policy affecting employee relations. 

The DOE leadership repeatedly states they are committed to engaging in good faith impact bargaining with HGEA, making every reasonable effort to consult, looking forward to meaningful discussions, and continuing to share pertinent information as it becomes available. Unfortunately, these are words without meaning and it is very difficult to build trust under these circumstances.

This testimony serves as notice to the Board of Education that the HGEA will take the necessary actions and seek appropriate relief to address the DOE’s failure to consult on the creation of the metrics for reopening thresholds, measures for school decision-making in transitioning between learning models, and the steps and considerations schools can take to reduce the risks of COVID-19 for students and staff. 

Thank you for the opportunity to submit our testimony.

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In addition, tomorrow HGEA, HSTA and UPW will be meeting with DOE officials and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto in response to DOE leadership’s request for a joint meeting with the three unions.

We stand ready to take any and all action necessary to protect employees' rights.

Watch for an update eBulletin tomorrow on the outcome of our meeting.

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