January 30th, 2012

Tony Gill, an attorney representing the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, argues in a brief before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has the authority under the state’s collective bargaining law to unilaterally implement a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant without a new contract with teachers.

A provision in the law makes collective bargaining inoperative if it jeopardizes federal money.

§89-20 Chapter inoperative, when. (a) If any provision of this chapter jeopardizes the receipt by the State or any county of any federal grant-in-aid or other federal allotment of money, the provision shall, insofar as the fund is jeopardized, be deemed to be inoperative.

Gill, who does not lack in confidence or humor, also manages to include some media criticism in his brief.

In addition to the legal concerns of interest to the parties, there are matters of public perception at stake. UHPA considers that the newspapers have been trafficking in misinformation on certain points. The political and editorial spin of recent date constructs a scenario in which the HSTA is frustrating the State’s ability to receive $75 M. This is rubbish.

Neither the State (nor any literate journalists) should blame HSTA for failing to negotiate a contract that solves RTTT compliance issues, because 89-20 renders any strictures of Chapter 89 inoperative to the extent they jeopardize federal funds. The State can solve compliance issues unilaterally. Being fully empowered, the State is thus solely responsible, and solely to blame, if there is a failure of compliance with RTTT that leads to loss of funds.

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