HONOLULU, Hawaii: On Tuesday, the Hawaii State Supreme court ruled that the Hawaii Labor Relations Board can’t be compelled to rule on a Hawaii State Teachers Association request for relief.
The union filed a prohibited practices complaint, saying the state violated teachers’ rights by implementing a contract that included a 5 percent salary cut and a 50/50 split on health insurance premiums. The contract was the state’s “last, best and final offer”, concluding contract negotiations between the governor, the Department of of Education and the HSTA. Union members never took a vote on the final offer, yet teachers began working under the new contract when the school year began.
After decision, both sides issued media releases saying the ruling was a positive.
The Office of the Governor issued this statement:
The Hawai’i Supreme Court today rejected the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s contention that the Hawai’i Labor Relations Board (HLRB) is not appropriately handling the case. The Supreme Court noted that the relief requested by HSTA, a petition for a writ of mandamus, is not appropriate in these circumstances.
Last week, the Hawai’i State Ethics Commission dismissed the HSTA’s complaint claiming that the State had improperly communicated with the HLRB.
Earlier this month, the HLRB also dismissed one of HSTA’s motions. In its ruling, the HLRB noted that the actions of HSTA amounted to “an egregious and reckless disregard for the truth” and “appear intended to mislead the board.”
Governor Neil Abercrombie today released the following statement:
“We respect and support teachers and their contributions. The tactics of the Hawai’i State Teachers Association and its attorneys are being rejected across the board by the legal system in every venue. These theatrics serve no public purpose and they undermine the fact that our students are in schools learning and our teachers are in classrooms teaching. We never received any proposed alternatives from HSTA after its board refused to submit our tentative agreement to the membership. It is time to move on.”
Also releasing a statement was the Hawaii State Teachers Association:
We are pleased that the Supreme Court has made it crystal clear that teachers’ right to strike has remained intact. Also, we are very pleased the court has ordered the HLRB to complete its work before issuing a premature judgment. We are very delighted that our purpose for going to the court, which was to make sure no premature ruling was issued by the Board without justification, was addressed.
We continue to believe the proposal we made to the Governor in July of this year for mediation followed by arbitration remains the wisest course for resolving our dispute.