TEACHERS’ UNION CLAIMS IMPROPER INFLUENCE; LABOR BOARD SAYS “NO”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 19, 2011) — On June 13, 2011, an ethics complaint was filed with the Hawaii State Teachers Association, the labor union to which public school teachers belong in the Aloha State, against Governor Neil Abercrombie, who was elected in November 2010 and sworn in to office early the following month.
The complaint names Abercrombie, the chairman of the Board of Education, and the superintendent of education. The teachers’ union claimed that Abercrombie had first engaged in “prohibited practices” by abandoning negotiations over the contract and then filed a second complaint for alleged ethics violations.
Union president Wil Okabe stated that Abercrombie initiated “ex parte communications” when he allegedly sent a “private letter” to the Hawaii Labor Relations Board which made his wishes for the desired outcome known before the HLRB had deliberated about the contract offer made by Abercrombie when “negotiations had reached an impasse.” The contract “imposed” on Hawaii teachers “included a 5-percent pay cut and a 50-50 split on insurance payments.”
The teachers’ union has claimed that it has a “constitutional right” to collective bargaining and that Abercrombie had deprived them of such after Abercrombie “unilaterally implemented” a new contract with pay cuts.
In 2007, the Hawaii teachers’ union had reportedly agreed to a contract which included random drug testing of its members, but later stated that it “had not understood the legal issues surrounding random drug testing when they negotiated the contract…” At that time, the state and the HLRB filed a complaint against the teachers’ union.
A hearing was held today which determined that Abercrombie’s letter did not constitute ex parte communications with the HRLB. During the proceedings, State Deputy Attorney General Jim Halvorson accused HSTA attorney Herb Takahashi of lying when Takahashi claimed that the governor’s letter to the board would not have withstood scrutiny by a court. Takahashi had also made the claim that “the state must also prove negotiations reached true impasse.”
Halvorson accused Takahashi of “negotiating in a vacuum without regard to the realities of your budget” in regard to the larger issue of teacher contracts.
Abercrombie had stated last January that “proof exists” of a long-form birth certificate for Barack Hussein Obama but then stated that he couldn’t locate it. On April 27, 2011, the White House released what it claims is a certified copy of Obama’s original birth record from Hawaii. However, many analysts have labeled it a forgery.