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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–SCAP-18-0000732

No. SCAP-18-0000732, Thursday, January 23, 2020, 10 a.m.

In the Matter of UNITED PUBLIC WORKERS, AFSCME, LOCAL 646, AFL-CIO, Complainant-Appellee-Appellant, vs. CHRISTINA M. KISHIMOTO, Superintendent, Department of Education, State of Hawaii; and CONNECTIONS, A New Century Public Charter School, Appellants-Appellees, and HAWAII LABOR RELATIONS BOARD; SESNITA A.D. MOEPONO and J.N. MUSTO (2003-027), Agency-Appellees-Appellees.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorneys for Appellant UPW:

Herbert R. Takahashi and Rebecca L. Covert of Takahashi and Covert

Attorneys for Appellees Kishimoto, et al.:

James E. Halvorson and Jeffrey A. Keating, Deputy Attorneys General

NOTE: Order granting Application for Transfer, filed 07/02/19.

COURT: Recktenwald, C.J., Nakayama, McKenna, Pollack, and Wilson, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

This case concerns the non-renewal of a custodial position at a public charter school. From 2000 to 2003, an employee worked as the custodian at a public charter school on the island of Hawaii. When his employment status changed from part-time to full-time, the employee became a member of bargaining unit 1 of Petitioner/Complainant-Appellee-Appellant United Public Workers, AFSCME, Local 646, AFL-CIO (collectively “UPW”). Each year, the public charter school renewed the employee’s position until May of 2003, when his position was non-renewed because of budget cuts.

UPW filed a prohibited practices action with Appellee-Appellee Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) challenging the non-renewal of the employee’s position. The HLRB granted summary judgment in favor of UPW, finding that the employee fell within the class of affected public charter school employees which the DOE had agreed to restore to civil service status in a stipulated settlement with UPW and other affiliated entities. The HLRB ordered the employee’s reinstatement.

The DOE appealed the HLRB’s decision to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit (circuit court). The circuit court vacated the HLRB’s order because it found disputed issues of material fact as to the employee’s status as a member of UPW’s bargaining unit 1 and whether the employee was intended to be in the class of workers covered by the stipulation between the DOE and UPW.

This appeal arises from two decisions by the HLRB after the case was remanded by the circuit court. First, the HLRB denied UPW’s motion to amend its complaint to add additional claims against the DOE and the charter school. Second, the HLRB dismissed UPW’s complaint entirely because it found that (1) it lacked jurisdiction over the complaint because the employee failed to exhaust his contractual remedies by first filing a grievance; and (2) the employee was not within the class of workers covered by the stipulation between the DOE and UPW.

UPW appealed the HLRB’s decision to the circuit court, which affirmed the HLRB’s decision.

UPW appealed the circuit court’s decision to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and the case was transferred to this court. On secondary appeal, UPW argues that the circuit court erred by: (1) vacating the HLRB’s grant of summary judgment in favor of UPW and then affirming the HLRB’s later conclusion that the employee was not covered by the stipulation between the DOE and UPW; (2) failing to address UPW’s argument that if the employee was not a civil service employee, the charter school was still required to bargain with UPW prior to removing his position from bargaining unit 1; (3) affirming the HLRB’s decision that it lacked jurisdiction over the employee’s claim; and (4) affirming the denial of UPW’s motion to amend its complaint.