State and Teachers’ Union Reach Tentative Agreement
By Wendy Osher
The state and Hawai’i teachers’ union have reached a tentative agreement after a week of mediation between the two parties, and after more than two years of negotiations.
The Hawai’i State Teachers Association will now take the four-year tentative agreement to its 13,500 members for ratification. The tentative deal reportedly calls for annual pay increases and performance evaluations for teachers.
Wil Okabe, HSTA president said he believes the tentative agreement is a beginning to providing professional salaries that he said will attract and retain the best and the brightest into Hawaii’s classrooms.
He said the contract calls for the equivalent of a 3% pay increase over and above the restored 5% cut this July. In subsequent years, he said, teachers will see increases of 3% and 3.2%.
“This will do a lot to stabilize the teaching force, which we know will improve teaching and learning conditions,” said Okabe in a press release.
Okabe noted that under the new agreement, the state has made steps toward restoring previous insurance premium percentages.
Meantime, Gov. Neil Abercrombie called the agreement a breakthrough for teachers, students and the future of the state. He said he believes it’s a fair contract that provides opportunities for what he called “long overdue” pay increases.
“With the state now being administered in a fiscally sound manner and improving economic estimates by the Council of Revenues, we were able to offer a comprehensive and favorable contract,” said Gov. Abercrombie in a media statement.
Okabe said he is hopeful that HSTA members will vote to support the agreement, saying it was made possible in large part due to the “ongoing pressure teachers put on the employer to settle the contract.”