HSTA election debacle signals need for change

A former HSTA member's perspective on the election debacle.

Doug Robertson

The news that my former colleagues and friends in Hawaii are being forced to cast their ballots for union leadership for a third time this year has reached the Mainland.

While it’s troubling that HSTA’s administration failed to run a glitch-free election, I am prepared to accept the possibility that those technical problems called the legitimacy of a fair vote into question. What I can’t and won’t accept is that the decision to call for a do-over election was made after the ballots were counted. 

That decision represents either a colossal error in judgment or absolute corruption of the principles of democracy. Either way, it means the time for a complete change has arrived. 

Back in 2012, we Hawaii teachers initiated our own efforts to end the stalemate we had with the governor, the state and our own union. Inside and outside HSTA’s formal structure, we took action to win the public’s support. We had to. And we won. Let’s not forget, we then voted Governor Abercrombie out.

Unfortunately for my wife and me, this was all at a time when we were planning for our first child. We could not afford to wait and see whether we had a shot at making it on the wages and benefits being negotiated. Like so many teachers before and after us, we were forced to leave Hawaii. My heart goes out to the families facing the possibility of having to make the same hard decision. We wanted to stay.

Hawaii Teachers for Change was, and is, a long time coming. The path was paved, the voices of Hawaii teachers have spoken. But obviously haven’t been heard.

I hope that in this third election teachers will VOTE LOUD!