Teachers Fight ‘Take It or Leave It’ Deal

      HONOLULU (CN) – The Hawaii State Teachers Association claims a Hawaii Labor Relations Board unconstitutionally denied its motion for interlocutory relief from the state’s “take it or leave it” approach to collective bargaining by repeatedly delaying hearings on the teacher union’s complaint.



     The union, made up of 12,486 teachers and Department of Education employees, filed a complaint on July 8 alleging that teachers’ employers used “unlawful and improper threats” during bargaining, undermined the role of the union as the bargaining representative by dealing directly with teachers, repudiated an agreement on how to proceed in negotiations, and committed “multiple breaches of the duty to bargain in good faith including implementing unilateral changes in wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment without bargaining in good faith before declaring impasse.”
     The union and the defendant state employers began working in October 2010 on negotiations to amend a collective bargaining agreement covering the period of July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011, for the period from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2013.
     During those negotiations, state employers “violated the constitutional rights of public employees by impinging upon the right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining,” the union claims.
     On Aug. 29 this year, the union filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the state Supreme Court, seeking “an order compelling the board to render a just and speedy decision and order on the motion for interlocutory relief … to facilitate and expedite a determination of the rights of the parties in a written decision and set forth specific findings of fact and conclusions of law on the issues presented in the motion for interlocutory relief, to order the board to make full disclosure of private communications they have had with the employer, and to conduct hearings on the merits in a timely manner and expedite proceedings in prohibited practice complaints.”
     The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected the union’s request to compel the board to provide teachers with immediate relief from a new contract imposed by the state.
     The union says state Supreme Court order denying its complaint was “in violation of constitutional and statutory provisions, in excess of statutory authority or jurisdiction of the agency, made upon unlawful procedure, affected by other error of law, clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative and substantive evidence on the whole records, and/or arbitrary, capricious, and characterized by abuse of discretion and a clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.”
     The board’s “refusal and failure to render a prompt and expeditious ruling on the amended motion for interlocutory relief on and after Aug. 31, 2011 substantially prejudices the constitutional and statutory rights of public employees represented by HSTA, including but not limited to the right to engage in collective bargaining … and the right to an expeditious determination and resolution of issue,” the complaint states.
     The teachers union seeks expedited review of the board’s decision and order, which it wants reversed or modified. The union is represented by Herbert Takahashi, with Takahashi & Covert.

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