By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer
Today is expected to mark another dead end in negotiations between public school teachers and the state.
Both sides must officially respond to a fact-finders report that proposes a 19 percent raise for Hawaiis teachers. But with the governor last week indicating he will reject the report, its moot whether the union accepts or rejects the recommendations.
The parties will now move into a 60-day "cooling off" period and closer to the possibility of a strike. The union has said a strike isnt likely until after spring break, in late March.
However, a strike is the last thing Hawaiis teachers want, said Joan Husted, executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, and its likely the parties will keep talking.
Hawaiis teachers have been working without a contract since January 1999. The Hawaii Labor Relations Board declared an impasse in negotiations in December and both a federal mediator and the three-member fact-finding panel have been unable to bring the sides to an agreement.
The union wants a 22 percent raise. The states raise offer averages 9 percent over the four years of the contract, but last week the governor suggested that may increase to about 11 percent.
Hawaiis teachers earn between $29,000 and $58,000 annually.
The HSTA has said Hawaii is in a crisis, with not enough qualified teachers and salaries too low to attract and keep people in the profession. The state says its offer tackles that problem by giving a bigger raise to entry-level teachers.
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