Voice of Stephanie Salazar
The governor has dismissed the latest Hawaii State Teachers Association request – a request that reportedly came about because of this video shot in Hilo.
The governor said, in a statement, that contract mediation would take place through the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, as the HSTA requested in a recent legal challenge. The HSTA is objecting to the administration’s “last, best and final” contract offer, which imposed a new contract on teachers without union approval.
HSTA president Wil Okabe reportedly changed his mind on Saturday, after seeing this video of the Wayne Jospeh, the Big Island president of the retired teachers association, debating the Governor outside the Imiloa Astronomy Center during a recent Hilo visit. The union had been following the governor around all day, demonstrating.
“Will Okabe said he wants to go back to the table,” Joseph is seen telling the governor on the video.
“Well thats fine, ” Abercrombie answered, “but he didn’t. Instead he went to court twice. He’s gone to the labor board twice. And I’m under the command of the labor board that there’s nothing I can do except try to answer the stuff that’s in the labor board. I wrote him a letter when I wrote you folks a letter – a public letter – that said ‘why don’t we set the labor board stuff and the legal stuff aside and sit down and do this.’ But it is the HSTA leadership that says they would rather be in front of the labor board than talk.”
“Not me,” Abrombie told Joseph in the video. “I’m ready today.”
“Lets get back to the table,” Joseph eventually said.
“I’m ready,” said the governor.
Okabe apparently sent a letter to the governor, accepting his perceived offer to renew dialogue, and requested arbitration.
The governor released a statement on Monday saying “Negotiations via the media are not productive,” and “It should be made clear that mediation is different from arbitration. Arbitration, which we have never offered, is not included in Hawai’i’s statutory collective bargaining process with the HSTA.”