Teachers union recommends four-year contract to members

The Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) board is recommending a tentative agreement for a four-year contract to its members.

HSTA president Corey Rosenlee said that the union and the state have reached the tentative agreement after nine months of negotiation in a press release Saturday night.

The current public teachers’ contract with the state expires June 30 for the 13,500 members of HSTA.

“There’s always more things that we want and the contract is always about compromise. There are a lot of things that we still need to improve education in Hawaii, but this is a good step forward. You know even though the budget is tight, the governor tried to find a way to make sure that teachers can get a salary that tries to make sure we can recruit and retain,” Rosenlee said.

Under the agreement, teachers will see a compounded salary increase of 13.6 percent over the next four years. Rosenlee says that the union believes this was the best package they could negotiate considering the state’s current fiscal outlook.

The state is also increasing its share of health insurance premiums and allows the union to renegotiate health plan contributions and professional development for the final two years of the contract.

The HSTA president thanked Gov. Ige, saying the governor stepped in and personally took part in negotiations for several days when talks broke down.

“This contract represents my commitment to excellence in our public schools and the practice of teaching. It says we trust and respect Hawaii’s teachers. Together, will make Hawaii a place our children can choose to call home.” – Gov. David Y. Ige

Rosenlee says the agreement includes streamlined evaluations for most tenured teachers for the next two years. The HSTA and Department of Education are currently working on a new evaluation process.

The tentative contract now goes to a vote of HSTA members at polling sites across the state on Thursday, April 27. A simple majority, 50 percent plus one vote, of the teachers who cast a ballot is needed to ratify the agreement. If it is ratified, the contract will begin on July 1, 2017.

The legislature would then have to fund the agreement.

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