Landslide Victory For New Hawaii Teachers Contract

A year after teachers rejected their last tentative labor contract, the moment has finally arrived: pay raises and improved healthcare benefits are on their horizon.

Seventy percent of Hawaii's more than 13,000 public school teachers cast their ballots Wednesday at roughly two dozen voting sites throughout the state to decide whether to ratify their new contract agreement. Nearly all of them — 95 percent — voted yes.

The results would suggest that the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s month-long outreach effort has paid off. Since the HSTA’s board of directors — after an all-night mediation session — unanimously approved the tentative agreement late last month, the union had set out to educate teachers about the contract’s details and urge them to vote in favor of the new deal, according to HSTA President Wil Okabe. Union representatives have visited every public school in the state, Okabe said.

Okabe spoke of teacher engagement and the widespread effort among educators to send the state a message. He spotlighted one teacher who gave birth yesterday and chose to cast her vote before returning to her newborn.

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