Teachers union, state reach deal

The Hawaii State Teachers Association has reached a tentative contract agreement with the state, impacting 13,500 teachers represented by the union.

If approved, the contract would increase pay for public school teachers throughout Hawaii by 14.5% over the next four years, which on average would be a raise of about $10,000 for each teacher.


The four-year cost of the contract is estimated to be $577 million, according to Gov. Josh Green, who spoke at a press conference on Monday with HSTA and Department of Education officials.

“We do have the resources for (it),” Green said regarding the cost. “But we’re also mindful that we’d always like to pay teachers even more.”

Green added the contract also would increase the starting pay for teachers.

“Now, entry-level teachers are going to start at $50,000 or more,” he said. “Teachers have historically, when they came in new, started with pretty low wages, as low as $38,000. No one can afford to live in Hawaii if they’re working full-time and earning $38,000.”

Another provision in the settlement addresses career and technical education, or CTE instructors.

“Under this agreement, we would be raising the starting base salary by nearly $13,000 (for CTE instructors), helping us attract industry professionals into our classrooms at a much higher salary,” Superintendent Keith Hayashi said during the press conference. “This increase would also apply to special permit teachers for Hawaiian language immersion, those who are qualified and proficient in ‘Olelo Hawaii who are working towards teacher licensure.”

In addition to the raises, the contract would provide teachers and educators with more job-development opportunities, including the creation of a new classification called Class VIII, which will allow experienced teachers to earn new credentials and increase their pay by roughly 4%.

HSTA President Osa Tui Jr. noted that roughly 4,000 teachers were stuck at the highest classification level in the current contract.

“We’re constantly over 1,000 teachers short, and I really didn’t want to see us experience early retirements,” Green said. “About a third of our teachers will be able, when eligible, to go for that classification.”

The contract would be a four-year agreement, effective July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2027.

The HSTA Executive Committee unanimously recommended its members vote to approve the agreement, with ratification scheduled for April 26.

“Since 2013, we really haven’t been able to make substantive changes to our contract,” Tui said, citing issues that occurred in 2017 and problems from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 when the contract was last renewed. “This is really the first time we’ve been able to say we want to sit down, have substantive conversations, open the whole contract, look at different things, and we did.”

Tui added he believes this is the strongest contract HSTA has had to date.

“Ultimately, this is going to help with recruitment and retention,” Tui said. “I hope that our members will vote yes, and I hope we have great news for you next week on Wednesday that we ratified this.”

The contract also addresses last year’s compression agreement, which was intended to streamline instructor pay schedules and align them with how many years an educator has worked within the DOE.

A compression fix occurred in July 2022, but some educators missed out due to issues verifying work experience and other filing problems. Any educators who did not benefit from the compression fix will receive a onetime $3,000 payment next school year, which nearly one-third of the HSTA bargaining unit has been waiting to receive.

“Under some circumstances, individuals would be able to get bonuses to make up for being left out,” Green said regarding the 2022 compression fix. “Wages have to increase, quality of life has to be addressed, and I think that’s what’s done in this contract.”

Email Grant Phillips at gphillips@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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