Teachers union: State offer of 2 percent bonus over 2 years is ‘unacceptable’

After taxes and rising health care costs, most would see a decrease in their take-home pay

The Maui News

The Hawaii teachers union Thursday revealed the state’s current contract offer — 1 percent bonus payments in each of the next two years — and expressed its displeasure.

“A 1 percent lump sum bonus for the average teacher would amount to approximately $550 per year,” said Corey Rosenlee, president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, in a correspondence with members. “After taxes and rising health care costs, most teachers would see a decrease in their take-home pay.

“This is unacceptable.”

The HSTA did not disclose its salary proposal.

The union also complained that the state’s offer did not include relief from the current 41 percent share that most teachers currently pay for health insurance premiums, which are rising. The HSTA is proposing to reduce the teachers’ share to 25 percent.

The HSTA bargaining team met with state negotiators for six hours Thursday in their fourth bargaining session on Oahu. The next negotiating session is set for Feb. 23, according to the communication. The current contract expires June 30.

The HSTA also is proposing to move away from the connection of teacher evaluations to compensation for all teachers. The union proposes going back to the former terms where only step movements are connected to a positive evaluation.

Other changes sought include adjustments to per diem payments, making it more equitable for Neighbor Island teachers who travel; increasing family leave benefits; and increasing the compensation for teachers in charge.

The HSTA also seeks more stringent accounting for public charter schools, calling for supplemental pay, bonuses and differentials to be funded as line items.

The union cited the teacher shortage, a $1 billion state surplus and teacher salaries that are $4,000 to $25,000 less annually than their Mainland counterparts in its call for a better contract.

A march on the state Capitol is planned for Feb. 13, Teacher Institute Day on Oahu, to demand a better contract, Rosenlee said.

No one at Gov. David Ige’s office was available to comment on the negotiations Thursday evening.