When Nikan Arapoff took his job as a seventh grade history teacher on Maui in 2005, he studied the pay raise schedule and determined that he and his wife would finally be able to afford a modest house on the expensive Hawaiian island. Now they have two young children, his house value has tanked and he's scrambling to make payments, supplementing his teaching income with odd jobs as a tutor and gardener.
Arapoff blames a knock-down-drag-out fight with Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie that has left teachers without a contract since July 2011. At that time, Abercrombie imposed the terms of a "last, best and final offer" that included a 5 percent pay cut and increased health care contributions by workers. Other public employee unions had already agreed to the same terms, a result of the $1.3 billion budget gap for the biennium that Abercrombie inherited when he took office in December 2010.