Where’s ‘Good Faith’ In HSTA-State Battle?

Last week things were looking better for the protracted battle going on between the state and the Hawaii State Teacher’s Association (HSTA). They returned to the bargaining table in hope of reaching an agreement. But after looking through the 103-page proposal, their hopes were dashed. The union said the proposal was “regressive.”

Now it is making plans to get the governor’s attention by staging what it called a “work-to-the-rules” strategy. The plan calls for teachers to work their negotiated workday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then go home. Many of them work on grading papers, creating lesson plans and interacting with students after class. That routine has been stopped. The teachers at Campbell are the first to take a stand, hoping for a better contract. Whether they get it or not is not the question, because they are directly involved with the negotiations. What surprised everyone was how many people – students, parents and teachers – supported the quiet protest.

It’s evident that a small majority of teachers are willing to strike; they are more interested in breaking the two years of no progress.

According to the National Labor Relations Act, both management and labor are required by law to negotiate wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment “in good faith.” Neither party is compelled to agree to a proposal. “Good-Faith Bargaining” means that proposals are matched with counterproposals, and that both parties make every reasonable effort to arrive at an agreement (pearson-highered.com).

One of these days the taxpayers are going to wonder which side is bargaining in good faith. It appears neither is exchanging counterproposals behind closed doors, just barbed remarks in public.