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Governor Neil Abercrombie is caught in a LIE

August 9, 2011
Okabe & Joseph

Governor rejects talks with teachers union

Tuesday, August 9 By COLIN M. STEWART Tribune-Herald staff writer

Gov. Neil Abercrombie refused Monday evening a request by the state teachers’ union to return to the negotiating table over the contract he enacted last month.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association’s request, in a letter sent to the governor Saturday, was prompted by a video recording of a conversation Abercrombie had with a protester during a visit to Hilo last week.

During a full day last Tuesday of traveling around town to various events, including the blessing of the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s new Science and Technology Building, Abercrombie was joined at each location by groups of HSTA-Retired members and other supporters. They held signs accusing him of letting them down, and demanding that the governor continue negotiations with the HSTA.

Following a meeting of the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce toward the end of the day, Abercrombie spoke with HSTA-R President Wayne Joseph in the breezeway of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center. Joseph, a freelance columnist for the Tribune-Herald, accused Abercrombie of being “anti-collective bargaining,” as his daughter, Jaclynn, recorded their conversation.

In response, Abercrombie said that he was “ready today, we’ll do mediation or whatever it is.”

The exchange between Abercrombie and the HSTA-R caught the ear of HSTA President Wil Okabe, who said he called an emergency meeting of the union’s board on Saturday, in which members voted to accept mediation and binding arbitration.

“What spurred our vote was the protest on the Big Island with the retirees,” he said Monday. “We took it to heart.”

However, in Monday evening’s joint response with schools Superintendent Kathy Matayoshi and Board of Education Chairman Don Horner, Abercrombie said he wasn’t interested.

“Negotiations via the media are not productive,” the statement reads. “The HSTA filed its complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and we respect that process. We continue to be open to mediation through HLRB.”

That statement seems to contradict what Abercrombie said in the video last week: “I wrote him (Wil Okabe) a letter, and I wrote you folks (HSTA-R) a letter, a public letter, that said, ‘Why don’t we set the labor board stuff and the legal stuff aside and sit down and do this?’ But it is the HSTA leadership that says they would rather be in front of the labor board than talk. Not me. I’m ready today.”

In Monday evening’s joint statement, Abercrombie added that arbitration had never been, and never would be, on the table.

“Arbitration, which we have never offered, is not included in Hawaii’s statutory collective bargaining process with the HSTA,” the statement read.

After hearing the governor’s response, Joseph said Monday he wasn’t surprised.

“This governor is anti-collective bargaining. Public workers helped put him into office. They went out, waved signs for him, believed in him, and now he’s just betraying his word and betraying us,” he said.

“That’s typical of the governor and his rhetoric. He’ll go and he’ll make statements and he won’t back it up. … Little wonder that we protested then, and we’ll probably protest again.”

The first hearing before the state Labor Relations Board concerning HSTA’s complaint will take place Wednesday.

Email Colin M. Stewart at

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    August 9, 2011 4:09 pm

    Mahalo to the retired teachers that helped to support the Actives!
    It made the governor stand up and take notice.

  2. J.N permalink
    August 9, 2011 4:11 pm

    GOLD STAR to all of the retired teachers that participated.
    You make us all proud.

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