Friday, January 12, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 12, 2001

Cayetano rejects teacher pay finding

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

Previous stories:
19% raise suggested for Isle teachers
Mediation fails to end dispute on teachers' pay
Cayetano refuses to blink on teachers' pay raise
Teachers reject pay offer, call impasse
Gov. Ben Cayetano yesterday shot down the report of a fact-finding panel and its recommendation of a 19 percent raise for Hawaii’s teachers.

Cayetano said the report, which appeared to lean in favor of the teachers union, is "not useful to us."

The impending failure of the fact-finding process moves Hawaii’s teachers closer to the possibility of a strike and at least one teacher yesterday said that appears to be the only recourse.

While Cayetano indicated he will reject the recommendation, he did suggest the state is willing to raise its offer from the 9 percent it has been proposing.

Gov. Ben Cayetano did not make room for the suggested raise in his budget.

Advertiser library photo • Nov. 8, 2000

The state is developing a package that is similar to the 11 percent settlement with the United Public Workers Unit 1, he said.

Chief negotiator Davis Yogi said the state is attempting to tackle Hawaii’s teacher shortage by boosting the entry-level pay.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association is seeking a 22 percent package. Hawaii’s teachers earn between $29,000 and $58,000.

Union officials yesterday said they will not comment on Cayetano’s response or the fact-finders’ report, which is supposed to remain confidential until next week.

The three-member fact-finding panel, headed by attorney Tom Crowley, was convened after a federal mediator was unable to bring the two sides to agreement. Acting as an independent third party, the panel reviewed the positions of both sides. It then suggested no increases in the first two years of the contract and 3 percent in the third and fourth years, along with incremental step increases that would bring the package to about 19 percent.

Cayetano criticized their report, saying it relies on outdated information.

"The panel seems to have taken the position of a super-legislature or a super-executive where they are recommending policy to us," he said. "For example, they recommend that we reprioritize our budget — that’s for us to decide, not the panel.

"Secondly, they came up with a number for the raises, but didn’t tell us where they’re going to get the money from and also they don’t even tell us how much they think it will cost. They don’t seem to understand the nuances of the budget."

Cayetano has said the money for any pay increases would have to come from other state programs.

Aina Haina Elementary special education teacher Carla Chang said she’s disappointed with the governor’s reaction.

"He has turned his back on the public workers and the unions," she said. "It’s really a sad situation in our state when all the people who benefited from public education are now leaving the system high and dry."

Chang also acknowledged that a strike has become more likely.

"In the past we were prepared to make a stand," she said. "In my 20-year teaching career I can recall three very close calls when we were prepared."

With the failure of fact-finding, the parties would enter a 60-day "cooling off" period, during which the union can issue a strike notice.

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