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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Mediation ordered in dispute over teacher contract

By Alice Keesing
Advertiser Education Writer

The state and the teachers' union have been ordered to seek mediation in an attempt to resolve their dispute over a professional bonus.

The two sides are at odds over the 3 percent bonus for teachers with master's degrees and professional diplomas and whether it was intended to be paid for one or two years.

The Hawai'i Labor Relations Board is scheduled to hear the dispute Oct. 22. But the board on Friday ordered the two sides to first enter into mediation.

Earlier in the week, board chairman Brian Nakamura had encouraged the two sides to seek binding arbitration. A mutual settlement would be preferable to holding a hearing and attributing blame in the matter, he said.

The board has given the two sides until Friday to agree on a mediator. If they cannot, the board will help appoint one.

"We will do everything we can to get this settled and if HLRB believes this is a viable way to get it done, then we'll do it," said Hawai'i State Teachers Association spokeswoman Danielle Lum.

The bonus was part of the deal struck between the state and HSTA during April's three-week strike. The dispute had delayed other pay raises and a $1,100 retention bonus — but the governor last week agreed to implement the remainder of the contract while the two sides hash out their disagreement.

More than 6,400 of Hawai'i's nearly 13,000 teachers were eligible for the bonus at the end of the last school year.

HSTA Executive Director Joan Husted said the latest figures she received from the Department of Education suggested the bonus would cost about $10 million per year. The governor has previously offered to pay $9.7 million for the bonus, but for one year only.

Reach Alice Keesing at akeesing@honoluadvertiser.com or 525-8014.