Why are teachers protesting?
Teachers at 38 schools are participating in a “work to the rules” protest, in which they are working strictly to the letter of their existing contract, and not performing additional tasks (extracurricular clubs, preparing lessons, meeting with parents, etc.). Here are some key points to understand about these demonstrations.
The Hawaii teachers union has been in negotiations for more than a year.
The last contract between HSTA and the state expired in June 2011; since then, the union and the state have not reached an agreement over a new contract.
The teachers union can’t strike right now.
HSTA has been in a legal dispute since the state unilaterally implemented a “last, best and final” contract offer that included wage reductions and higher health insurance premiums.
Negotiations intensifying in next few weeks
Negotiations began two weeks ago on a contract for 2013-2015. That process is expected to intensify in the next few weeks.
The protests provide cover for union leadership to push harder
Several sources we’ve spoken to have described Wil Okabe as fumbling and ineffective. The protests can be seen as union members taking their future into their own hands, and also giving an opportunity for Okabe to point to teacher discontent as gaining steam – which strengthens their hand at the negotiating table.