We have repeatedly asserted that public school teachers in Hawaii are underpaid.
That said, the Hawaii State Teachers Association's rejection of a contract offer that would have restored the 5 percent pay cut instructors received was a mistake - both tactically and economically.
The rejected contract would have also given teachers 2 percent raises in each of the next two school years.
At a time when many workers are still making less than they were before the recession, teachers will not receive much sympathy from their fellow citizens for rejecting a plan that offered raises.
True, the proffered contract will not get the teachers where they should be on pay. But that will take years and a long series of contracts.
HSTA is wrong when it suggests the state is operating at a surplus. Technically, that may be true but it discounts the billions of dollars of underfunded pensions for public workers the state faces.
The HSTA is also committing a public relations blunder by refusing to resume negotiations with the state until next month. It makes the union appear arrogant.
The state's offer has now expired and we hope this is not deja vu - the last time the union rejected an offer, it ended up working under "last, best and final" conditions imposed by the governor. It then tried to revisit the rejected offer only to have the state say it was no longer valid.
If indeed there is a "fiscal cliff" in January, this just-spurned offer may look like a dream contract.
We'd urge HSTA to resume talks immediately. The timing is very bad for drawing lines in the sand.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.