With Prejudice: Teachers Union Withdraws Labor Complaint

The Hawaii State Teachers Association has officially withdrawn its complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, but it didn’t go as smoothly as Gov. Neil Abercrombie would have liked. 

The complaint was filed in July 2011 after the state imposed 5 percent pay cuts and higher medical premiums as part of its “last, best, final offer" to the union when contract negotiations fell apart. HSTA claimed the state violated its collective bargaining rights by forcing teachers to accept the contract. 

The long labor board hearings wrapped up in May 2012, but the gubernatorial-appointed board never made a ruling on the case. This was convenient for the state negotiating team when contract talks resumed because as long as that case was pending, the union couldn’t strike.

In March, the state reached a roughly $350 million four-year contract agreement with HSTA that included pay raises, better health benefits — and a memorandum of understanding that required the union to withdraw its labor complaint.

On May 1, two weeks after the governor and HSTA President Wil Okabe signed the new deal, the union filed a motion to withdraw its complaint without prejudice with HLRB.

Abercrombie and members of the state contract negotiations team retorted May 7 with a motion in opposition. They didn’t like the “without prejudice” part, which means the union can bring the same complaint against the state at a later date.

The labor board, comprised of Chair James Nicholson and member Rock Ley, sided with the state this week.

The board on Tuesday granted the withdrawal of the complaint, but with prejudice, meaning the union can’t file the same complaint with the board.

And as the order states, “This case is closed.”

Nathan Eagle

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The Hawaii Labor Relations Board hears the teachers union’s complaint, March 27, 2012. (Civil Beat photo)

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