Members of Hawaii’s statewide teachers’ union Tuesday ratified a new labor agreement that will shut down public schools for 17 days over the remainder of the school year and again for the next school year. The normal school year is 180 days.
The furlough agreement was negotiated to save money as the state government deals with shrinking tax receipts.
“This has not been a normal or easy process given the unprecedented economic and fiscal challenges, and there are things that none of us necessarily wanted to do, but that we had to do in order to address the growing budget shortfall, and live within our means,” Gov. Linda Lingle said in a statement Friday after the tentative two-year agreement was first announced.
Hawaii State Teachers Association members voted 81% in favor of the contract, which will cut teachers’ salaries proportionally to the missed days but avoids the threat of layoffs.
Schools will be closed on 17 Fridays for the remainder of the school year.
Public schools in Hawaii are an arm of the state government. The Lingle administration also wants furlough agreements with other state employee unions, and has initiated the process of laying employees off while furlough negotiations continue.