Wil Okabe, the president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, on Sunday responded to criticism from the Hawaii Government Employees Association about the teachers approach to their contract fight against the state.
The message to teachers came several days after Randy Perreira, the executive director of the HGEA, issued his comments, part of a pattern by the teachers union of not immediately responding to criticism.
The leadership of HGEA agreed to be the first union to settle with the Governor provided that the Governor agreed to include contract language that states: “all public sector bargaining units shall be subject to 5% pay reductions, supplemental time off and 50% in premium rates.” If any public sector union negotiates anything better, HGEA would receive that automatically.
We respect the right of HGEA’s leaders to represent their members and bargain collectively on their behalf. But it is HSTA’s leadership that represents teachers and our duty is to bargain collectively on their behalf.
We don’t know if HGEA was threatened by the Governor’s negotiators as we were. We were told that if we didn’t go along with the Governor we would face the layoff 800 teachers and “nasty things would happen” to teachers at work.
We made a decision to stand up to the threats, bargain for ourselves, and defend our collective bargaining rights.
No group of public sector workers donates the amount of unpaid time that teachers donate to their students. Teachers do not have the luxury of a 35 work week. To the contrary, the average teacher gives 40 hours of unpaid time every month to their students.
That’s sacrifice we make willingly, but we won’t allow others to take advantage of it, ignore it, or disrespect it.