HSTA negotiations survey finds salary, cost of living top of mind

Step movements, reclassification and bonuses were also top concerns

As we head into the Thanksgiving break, the HSTA would like to thank you for all the time and energy you put toward the keiki of Hawaii. 

The HSTA Negotiations Committee expresses its thanks to the 3,825 members who responded to our recent negotiations survey. On Nov. 22 and 23, the committee met to review all of the responses (587 pages worth) and has the following report on the results.

We asked members to share their desires about improving wages, compensation, benefits, workday/week, and general working conditions. Members from all across the state replied with varying assignments and experiences, everything from first-year teachers to our veteran teachers with many years of service. Roughly 82 percent of the respondents were classroom teachers and about half were from the elementary grade levels. View more details about the demographics of our respondents here.

Wages and compensation

In wages and compensation, the top areas for improvement were the cost of living, step movements, reclassification, and bonuses. A large portion of the members expressed the need for salaries that take into account the cost of living. Educators with varying years of experience expressed the importance of continuing the fight for regular and frequent step movements as well as addressing the more than 6,000 members who have been impacted by the compression on the salary schedule

A significant portion of teachers reported concerns about the reclassification process which is difficult and cumbersome. Educators may have missed a recent story about our win from a PD class grievance. We also want members to know that we are discussing the need to improve the types and available courses allowed for reclassification, and the DOE is very receptive. Related to reclassification, to a lesser extent, some teachers asked if we could pursue creating class VIII for those “stuck” in class VII.

We also had a large number of teachers who expressed the importance of looking at bonuses and supplemental pay for areas that most contribute to the teacher shortage crisis. Members focused on special education, Hawaiian language immersion, and other hard-to-staff areas.  


In the area of benefits, we had a lot of interest in finding ways to generally increase the number of paid leave days, the ability to take more personal leave and paid paternity/maternity leave. Many members who receive their health benefits through the state also want to see their share of premiums reduced. One area of particular concern to our members: the need to make sure principals can’t deny personal leave. Personal leave for personal business that can’t be conducted during the school day should not be denied, regardless of the day of the week or year.  For more information, members can go to the Know Your Rights section of our website (which is password-protected and requires users to be logged in to view) and learn more about personal leave.

Working conditions

In the area of improving our educators' contract, there were lots of different ideas for needed changes. Teachers want to see the following: increases in paid preparation and collaboration time, additional pay for after school meetings and functions, smaller class sizes, air conditioning, and improved facilities, as well as improvements in addressing student discipline and administrative support.

In the coming months, the Negotiations Committee will ask for additional specifics from members as we prepare for bargaining our next contract. Future surveys will include specific questions and feedback gathering about all of the items listed in this article. Look for the next survey in early 2020.


HSTA Negotiations Committee

  • Chair: Paul Daugherty (Kona)  
  • Vice Chair: Diane Mokuau (Molokai)  
  • Central: Leilani Ngumezi and James Cabralda 
  • Hamakua: Jayne Heinze  
  • Hilo: Aaron Kubo and Jenne Olayon   
  • Honolulu: Shannon Kaaa and Thomas Schemel  
  • Kauai: Kathy Shibuya  
  • Kona: Chris Pascual  
  • Lanai: Douglas Weidman   
  • Leeward: Tammy Shaw   
  • Maui: Freddie Perez and Lisa Morrison  
  • Windward: Bea DeRego and Susana Roman  

Contact the committee: negotiations@hsta.org.

Author: Keoki Kerr