Hawaii teachers union to file ethics complaint against Abercrombie

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August 15, 2011

By Tyler Millhouse

Honolulu, Hawaii: On August 13, the Hawaii State Teachers Association voted to file an ethics complaint against Governor Neil Abercrombie (D). In addition to Abercrombie, the complaint names State Board of Education Chair Donald Horner and Superintendent of Education Kathryn Matayoshi. The action is the result of a continuing battle over teacher contracts.[1]

In late June, Abercrombie decided to abandon negotiations (effective July 1) and impose 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 (and others involved in the process) for engaging in "prohibited practices." After this initial complaint was filed with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, a YouTube video circulated wherein Abercrombie states that he is open to mediation. In response, the HSTA sent a letter to the Governor praising his offer and agreeing to engage in binding arbitration. Abercrombie quickly rejected the offer, stating that he had never intended to offer binding arbitration.[2]

Following this rejection, Ambercrombie restated his interest in mediation on the condition that both parties' representatives be authorized to agree to a final settlement. The latter condition was added in response to a July 1 agreement that was accepted by union negotiators, but rejected by the HSTA Board of Directors. Abercrombie made this statement in a letter to HLRB.[1][3]

However, this action prompted the HSTA's latest decision to file an ethics complaint. The union argues that direct contact with the HLRB is inappropriate while the original complaint is still pending. The complaint will be formally filed today.[1]

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