Randy Perreira, the executive director of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, told members in a message Tuesday that the Hawaii State Teachers Association is jeopardizing the collective bargaining rights of all public workers in its contract fight with Gov. Neil Abercrombie.
The message is similar to criticism last week from the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which has intervened in the teachers union’s prohibited practices complaint before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.
Perreira said the teachers union has insinuated that the HGEA conspired with Abercrombie and that the “favored nation” clause in the HGEA’s contract interfered with the teachers’ rights. The clause guarantees that the HGEA, which agreed to a two-year contract earlier this year, would enjoy any gains later won by other public-sector unions.
HSTA’s desperate attempts to deflect blame include insinuating that HGEA conspired with the governor to limit their negotiations. Their attorney, Herbert Takahashi, actually claimed that the “favored nation” clause in HGEA’s contracts interfered with HSTA’s collective bargaining rights, suggesting we were part of a conspiracy to limit what the teachers could negotiate. This is an absurd and insulting suggestion — that we would hurt our own members in a bizarre plot to negatively affect teachers. The fact is that in recognizing HGEA as the first union to reach a settlement, the governor offered “favored nation” status as a way to maintain parity among all public employees.
Perreira also notes that he was among the union leaders and public officials issued subpoenas by the teachers union. The HGEA has sought to quash the subpoena.
In taking a position that can jeopardize the future of the collective bargaining law, and attacking their fellow unions, the HSTA has run amok and is in danger of negatively affecting everyone in government employment.
Wil Okabe, the president of the teachers union, said on Saturday in response to the faculty union’s criticism that Abercrombie’s unilateral imposition of a “last, best and final offer” represents the greatest threat to the collective bargaining rights of public workers in recent history.
Today, the UH faculty (University of Hawaii Professional Assembly) suggested it would be better for everyone if HSTA would simply give in to the Governor’s unilateral actions. They stated that we are wrong to exhaust our legal options.HSTA will continue to exercise every legal right we have, utilize every resource we have, and fight with every ounce of energy we have. Hawaii’s teachers deserve nothing less.
One longtime Democratic activist, speaking privately, said Democrats may have to send a message to Abercrombie and the teachers union that the dispute is threatening to cause lasting damage among traditional allies.