Hawaii Teachers Bungling Legal Case Against State?

This could be the year that Hawaii's governor gets the blessing to implement new work conditions on public employees without union approval. Or it could be the year the Hawaii State Teachers Association prevails in its protest that his action was unconstitutional and violated collective bargaining rights.

What happens depends in part on how the HSTA handles itself before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board. And so far, the teachers union doesn't appear to be doing too well.

Hitting The Brakes

Despite its talk of of the urgent need to resolve this conflict with the governor, the teachers union has done its share of slowing things down.

HSTA has filed numerous separate motions — all at different times in the case — forcing the labor board to deal with those as they come up.

The board intended to hear the main complaint on Monday, Aug. 15. But that hearing was postponed until Aug. 25 so it could first hear a complaint from the HSTA about a letter labor board Chairman Jim Nicholson had received from Gov. Neil Abercrombie. The board ruled that the letter was not an attempt to subvert the legal process.

Still, HSTA attorney Herb Takahashi blamed the governor and his letter for the delay.

"It's because of this motion from the union that hearings were delayed, not because of the letter," retorted state Deputy Attorney General Jim Halvorson.

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