Hawaii Teacher Talks End
HONOLULU (AP) _ A marathon bargaining session that continued until nearly 2 a.m. Thursday made progress but failed to end a statewide strike that has kept 180,000 children out of school for two weeks.
Negotiators for the state and the teachers’ union met with a federal mediator for 11 hours, ending the talks with plans to return to the bargaining table Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, elementary and high schools were to be closed for a 10th day.
Both sides said the negotiations were progressing, especially because a separate strike by University of Hawaii faculty ended late Tuesday, allowing state negotiators to focus on the remaining dispute.
``There’s only one issue left, which is salary, so that’s what we’re talking about,″ said Joan Husted, executive director of the 13,000-member Hawaii State Teachers Association.
Grades from kindergarten to graduate school had been shut down since the strikes began April 5, unprecedented in any state. With the settlement of the university faculty strike, some classes resumed Wednesday and all classes at the university’s 10 campuses were to resume Thursday. The campuses have more than 40,000 students.
Gov. Ben Cayetano called the agreement ``a win for the faculty, the university and a win for the state.″ He said it was ``good contract, given the state’s ability to pay.″
The tentative two-year contract gives the 3,100 professors and lecturers each a $2,325 raise the first year, a 6 percent increase the second year and possible increases of 1 percent in merit pay each year.
The public school teachers are seeking pay raises totaling 22 percent in a four-year contract, retroactive to July 1999. The state offer just before the strike was a 12 percent increase over two years.
The teachers, who earn between $29,000 and $58,000 a year, have argued the increases are needed because of Hawaii’s high cost of living. The governor has said the state can’t afford what they are seeking.
On the Net:
University of Hawaii: http://www.hawaii.edu
Education department: http://doe.k12.hi.us
Teachers union: http://www.hsta.org