2017 charter school bargaining conference a major success

HSTA hosted the first-ever Charter School Bargaining Conference Jan. 14 and 15 at the Pagoda Hilo Bay Hotel. At total of 32 teachers from charter schools across the state attended. The conference was designed to “help prepare and empower charter school teacher leaders to bargain their school-based supplemental agreements,” according to conference coordinator and HSTA Negotiations Specialist Ray Camacho.

The meeting provided teacher leaders with a hands-on approach and “how to” techniques for bargaining. It covered a wide range of content from a broad overview of charter school bargaining and the law to the basics of the HSTA master agreement. Sessions also covered teacher compensation, teacher rights and protections, bargaining styles, getting your school ready and role playing for table bargaining.

Conference participant Alison Hartle, a teacher at University Laboratory School, noted it was “really useful to have all of the steps and strategies laid out on paper.”  Stewart added that “many teachers expressed their appreciation for the great content and skills that were provided through this conference, especially through this type of training as opposed to webinars and other non-face-to-face mediums.”

Teacher Roxanne Stewart from Ka Umeke Kaeo Public Charter School opened with a Hawaiian chant to get attendees positively focused. Stewart spoke of the tremendous value for charter school teachers to meet and network with their peers from other charter schools throughout the state.

Her sentiment was echoed by Kualapuu Elementary Charter teacher and Molokai Chapter President Lokelani Han, saying the conference provided “Solid, useful information…and great networking opportunities had by all.”

HSTA State President Corey Rosenlee addressed the conference and provided a broad view of the challenges facing public school teachers in Hawaii, with a teacher shortage and comparatively low salaries from mainland counterparts.

HSTA State Negotiations Committee Chair Osa Tui said the conference was an excellent learning opportunity for our charter school teacher leaders. Tui said “the attendance by the HSTA state bargaining team was intended to send a strong message of support and inclusion for our union sisters and brothers in the charter schools.” In advocating equity for charter school teachers, Tui assured the conference attendees that their “voices were heard loud and clear!”

HSTA Negotiations Team members also in attendance included Kona representative Paul Daugherty, Molokai representative Diane Mokuau and Honolulu representative Shannon Kaaa.

HSTA Chief Negotiator Andrea Eshelman, who is also the Association’s deputy executive director, spoke about HSTA’s history and structure. HSTA’s parent-union, NEA, was also represented by Brian Beallor from the NEA Office of Collective Bargaining, who spoke about student-centered advocacy.

HSTA held the conference on Hawaii Island because it has the highest concentration of charter schools in the state—15—with 10 of those in the Hilo area.