Court says HSTA complaint must await HLRB decision

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November 15, 2011

Honolulu, Hawaii: After a similar ruling in the Hawaii Supreme Court, the O`ahu First Circuit Court has refused to intervene in contract dispute between Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) and the Hawaii State Teachers Association. In its November 10 ruling, the Circuit Court rejected an HSTA petition asking to court to order the Hawaii Labor Relations Board to rule on the union's complaint against Abercrombie.

In late June, Abercrombie abandoned negotiations (effective July 1) and imposed the state's "last, best and final offer," citing a deadlock with the union. Although the move is permissible under federal law when negotiations have reached an impasse, the union challenged this characterization and filed a complaint against the Governor for engaging in prohibited practices.[1][2][3]

On August 29, the HSTA asked the State Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus ordering the Hawaii Labor Relations Board to rule on the Association's complaint. However, on September 27, the court rejected the petition and said that state teachers may not strike until the HLRB has issued its ruling on the complaint.[4][5]

The teachers union argues the HLRB is taking too long to reach a decision. The union has also asked for a temporary injunction restoring their previous contract terms. However, the Circuit Court has not yet ruled on that request.[6]

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