Union: Hawaii teachers vote on contract in April

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Associated Press

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 5:04 PM

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii's teachers union has set an April 17 date to vote on a new contract after a tentative deal was reached over the weekend between the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the state.

Union officials said on the association's Facebook page early Monday teachers will be able to review the contract and ask questions at information sessions before the vote. The union also posted a link to the 106-page agreement.

The teachers' last contract expired in June 2011. Teachers voted down a contract offer in January 2012, then tried to pressure the state to accepting it later by voting on it again and passing it.

The sides sought the help of a federal mediator this month.

"We've worked very hard to get to this point and we remain committed to providing teachers with necessary resources and support to achieve our strategic goals," said Kathryn Matayoshi, superintendent of the Hawaii Department of Education.

Wil Okabe, president of the union, said the new deal restores a previous 5 percent pay cut and gives teachers a 3 percent raise on top of that in July. Teachers will get raises of 3 percent and 3.2 percent in following years, he said.

The deal takes steps toward restoring the previous percentages that teachers would pay of their insurance premiums, Okabe said.

"I believe that the reason we have a tentative agreement in large part is because of the ongoing pressure teachers put on the employer to settle the contract in the best interests of teachers and students," Okabe said in a letter to teachers.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said at a news conference Sunday night that the state would be able to fully fund the deal.

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Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

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