|Without a contract since January 1999, teachers yesterday demonstrated for better pay and working conditions at the State Capitol.
Gregory Yamamoto The Honolulu Advertiser
By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer
More than 5,000 teachers swarmed the state Capitol yesterday answering their unions call for solidarity in the face of deadlocked contract negotiations.
In what many said was the biggest teacher rally in recent history, teachers marched around the Capitol brandishing signs that read: "No Pay Means No Stay" and "Got Pay Raises?"
"The teacher shortage is out of control, and we must do something about it," said Hawaii State Teachers Association President Karen Ginoza. There are approximately 200 classrooms in Hawaii that either have no teacher or someone who is unqualified, she said.
The rally revealed the teachers growing anger over working without a contract since January 1999. Many said low pay and an increased workload make their jobs unbearable. And while they dont want to strike, they said they are ready to join the picket line if necessary.
"Cayetano doesnt realize that teachers, because they are paid so little, have to work second or third jobs, so that takes away from our planning time and that affects the kids," said Leilehua High teacher Daniel Au.
Ginoza said the unions next step is asking for the publics help.
The union is seeking a 22 percent pay increase over four years. The state has offered a dollar amount that averages 9 percent. Union officials said they expect to see a new offer from the state within a week.
The union and state are in a 60-day "cooling off" period. When that ends March 17, teachers can strike.
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