EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
UHPA Executive Director J. N. Musto had a confidential written report that was shared with Directors. The report reviewed the status of bargaining, grievances and arbitration cases, and other matters reported to the Faculty Forum. Directors unanimously passed a motion to approve the bid ($8,803.04) for the phone and cable installation by Integrated ComTel, Inc. for UHPA’s building modifications.
MAUI CC DIRECTOR
In President Joseph Chernisky’s written report to Directors,
he notified the Board that Maui CC Director Joshua Cooper has resigned
his Director position with UHPA due to a change in his locus of
teaching and his current credit hours of teaching assignments. He also withdrew his nomination as a candidate for the new 2009-2012 Maui CC Board election.
Since Director Cooper’s Board seat expires on August 31, 2009
and the elections process is currently occurring, Nominations and
Elections Committee Chair Sharon Rowe brought forth the following
recommendation. Directors unanimously passed a motion to invite Maui CC candidates Lisa Deneen and Vincent Linares to attend the next Board of Directors’ meeting scheduled for Saturday, March 14, 2009 as observers. Since
the election of a new Director would be conducted in April and the
elected person would take office immediately after the results are
determined instead of on September 1, an interim Board Director will
not be appointed prior to the election.
FACULTY REPRESENTATIVE APPOINTMENT
Directors unanimously passed a motion to confirm the appointment of Kathleen Sands of American Studies at UH-Manoa as the Faculty Representative for Primary Academic Unit 042 effective immediately. Her term ends on May 31, 2009. She replaces Theodore Gonzalves, who is on sabbatical leave for the spring semester.
HAWAII GREAT TEACHERS SEMINAR
Directors were informed that the Hawaii National Great Teachers Seminar will be having its 21st
annual meeting from Sunday, August 9, through Thursday, August 14, 2009
at the Kilauea Military Center in the Volcanoes National Park on the
Big Island of Hawaii. For more information about the seminar, go to: .
Last October, the UHPA Board of Directors approved guidelines
and criteria as well as a grant application form for the Hawaii Great
Teachers Seminar for lecturers who are active UHPA members. Lectures
with 8+ credits in the previous and/or coming semester would be
eligible to apply for a UHPA grant. Directors at their meeting on
February 21 passed a motion to approve $4,500 for the 21st Annual Hawaii Great Teachers Seminar with grants up to $1,500 for actual costs per person. Directors Brenda Cartwright and Adrienne Valdez volunteered to serve on the Hawaii Great Teachers (HGT) Committee. Lecturers will be notified how to apply for grants from UHPA to attend this year’s HGT seminar.
Directors discussed matters relating to publicizing the union’s position and the collaboration with other public sector unions.
- Changes to the nonprofit corporation law are likely to be
incremental. This year allowing notice of meetings to be sent
electronically with permission of the individual has been proposed. It
is viewed as an editorial change.
concerns expressed by nonprofit organizations and the Hawaii Department
of Commerce and Consumer Affairs that voting or conducting business
electronically may present security and integrity problems. There will
be a continuing dialogue regarding legislation for the next legislative
session with the nonprofit organization and the Commerce Department.
With regard to what is being
proposed to reduce health benefits by certain legislators, Directors
were asked to consider not continuing UHPA’s political endorsement of
- An inquiry was made as to whether the Grievance Committee should be reinstituted. The resulting discussion yielded no consensus. It
was suggested that a brief statement describing the charter for a
possible grievance committee be submitted for Directors to review for
When asked if UHPA is included in
the selection process of the UH President, Executive Director Musto
replied that the union has never been part of the process, and in the
past has been asked by the Board of Regents not to request inclusion in
the selection committees.
According to the UHPA President’s
written report, the Investment, Finance and Audit Committee (IFAC) will
be assigned the task to review the lobbyist contract of Radcliffe and
Associates as part of their review of the FY10 budget and bring forth a
recommendation to the Board of Directors at its April 25 meeting.
However, the President did extend an invitation to other interested
Directors to also participate in the review of the lobbyist contract.
A request was made to inform the
full Board of any actions taken by the Executive Committee and if no
meeting was held that Directors be kindly informed as well.
By statute, all public employees receive health insurance coverage through the Employer Union Trust Fund. The public sector unions, e.g., UHPA, HGEA, cannot negotiate the coverage or the carriers, but the Employer’s contribution to the premium payments are subject to bargaining. The Employer (State) has said they are not willing to contribute any more money to the EUTF. Currently, the Employer pays 60% of the HMSA PPO premium, which is the base for all other options, such as Kaiser. The EUTF actually purchases the insurance coverage from Kaiser, but they “self-fund” the HMSA PPO, so HMSA administers the benefit payments but doesn’t underwrite the insurance. Three years ago, the EUTF established a reserve fund to pay out the benefits and has used money from that fund to hold down the premium increases. Now the reserve fund is depleted and the insurance costs will increase. The Kaiser increase will be approximately 10% on July 1, 2009, but the EUTF’s consultants have said to maintain the current benefits after July 1st, the premium for those selecting HMSA will need to be increased by 29.4%. About half of the increase is due to the consultant’s determination that the reserve fund must be increased for active employees in the HMSA PPO plan.
The EUTF Board is meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, February 25th. The Board is split evenly between labor and management. It is important that the Employer’s (management) representatives hear from faculty members about the need to maintain health benefits at their current levels. Also, the public sector unions are united in supporting the position that the State must continue to contribute at least 60% to the premium costs, regardless of the increase in premiums. The unions also believe that the self-funding of the HMSA health insurance is a bad idea, and that the EUTF should purchase insurance from HMSA, as they do the Kaiser plan. The HMSA’s community-based premiums are scheduled to increase 12%, as opposed to the 29.4% projected for the EUTF plan.
The issue of the premium increase and the benefits to be offered in the HMSA plan will be decided by the EUTF Trustees over the next few weeks. However, it is important for the Trustees to hear from individuals who are covered by the EUTF plans. This currently includes all public employees, except for the teachers represented by HSTA.
The question is simple, “Regardless of the premium costs; do you want the HMSA benefits to be maintained at current levels?” In order to reduce the premium increase, proposals have been made to reduce the benefits by introducing a front-end deductible. This means, in addition to the premiums you pay, you would pay $250, $450, or $850 out-of-pocket before the insurance would cover doctor or hospital costs. They would also reduce other benefits, so that the hospitalization reimbursements would be reduced from a 90% reimbursement by the insurance company to 80%.
Finally, the public sector unions are united in supporting the continuation of the current health insurance benefits for retired employees, and maintaining the State’s payment of the full premium for retirees who have qualified through their years of public service. In this regard, faculty members are treated exactly the same as all other public sector employees.
UHPA, HGEA, and UPW are all asking our members to write to the EUTF Trustees to express their views on this important issue.
Key messages for EUTF Management Trustees:
- Do not reduce benefits nor try to hide reductions through high front-end deductibles.
- Faculty members took employment with UH expecting good health benefits and their continuation. This directly impacts the ability to recruit and retain faculty into the University which is located in a high cost of living state.
- The self-insured trust should be closed out and unions given the right to collectively bargain over health insurance. It is clear that the only thing self-insurance has brought is potentially increased costs and risk to the public employees.
- The EUTF trustees should be advocating for the legislature to increase funding for health insurance. The Federal stimulus package is bringing money that will reduce the stress on Medicaid reimbursements. Public employees should not be left with less benefits and higher costs as stimulus funds become available.
The issue of the EUTF is being discussed more fully during the campus meetings that have been scheduled. See our website for the dates, times, and places for your campus.
The House Committee on Labor and Public Employment deferred all five bills scheduled to be heard today (see UHPA News – Legislative Alert #2). These included prohibiting employer paid prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance along with capping the employer contribution for health insurance while removing the right to bargain over the employer contribution. A retirement bill to increase the service time and age for full retirement was also deferred.
This means the bills are not moving forward. Usually such bills will not be considered this session, but it is an unusual environment. UHPA will continue to monitor in case any of these proposals are advanced at a later date.
The legislative process can require quick action as the dynamics change regarding specific pieces of legislation.
And now the next hearing where faculty voices are needed is scheduled for Tuesday, February 17, at 8:30 a.m. The House Committee on Labor and Public Employment will again hear proposed legislation that is harmful to public employees including faculty.
The following bills are scheduled to be heard:
- HB 1715 Employees Retirement System; Service Retirement Credit
This will change the age and service time requirement for employees hired after June 30, 2009. The age of retirement will be 65 with 10, 15 or 30 years depending on certain elements. It also diminishes retirement benefits for current employees by changing the age and service credit basis dependent on employee classification in the system.
- HB 1723 Relating to Public Employees
This will prohibit bargaining over the employers contribution to the Employer-Union Trust Fund. It will cap employers contribution to health benefits to 55% of the benefit cost. Currently faculty members have a 60-40 split with the employer paying 60%.
- HB1725 Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund
Prohibits EUTF from providing prescription drug coverage. Allows
EUTF to have a prescription benefits paid by the employee. The impact
of this could be to increase premiums since access to prescription
drugs often prevents other costly services like surgery. Finding an
insurance carrier may be difficult because there needs to be assurances
that a large number of employees will participate.
- HB 1726 Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund: Group Life Insurance Prohibited
Employers are prohibited from contributing to any Group Life Insurance for employees. Employees can be offered a program paid for by the employee. A fee for being allowed to provide insurance will be charged to the insurance carrier and given to the state general fund.
- HB 1727 Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund: Dental-Vision Prohibited
Employers are prohibited from contributing to any Dental-Vision insurance plans. Employees can be offered programs paid for by the employee.
Tips for Testimony
Testimony can be submitted less than 24 hours in advance of a hearing. It will be placed in the Committee record but may not be acknowledged at the hearing.
Testimony is placed on the Legislative Web site after the hearing adjourns.
At the top of your testimony place the Committee name, date and time of the hearing. Include the measure number and title.
It is good to have separate messages for each bill that is being heard. It makes it appear that there are many voices. It also allows different arguments to be asserted.
It is good to sign your statement “respectfully submitted” with your name, position or title and organization you represent. In most cases you will be signing your testimony as a faculty member from a specific campus.
The hearings are public so faculty are encouraged to attend.
Email your statements in opposition to these bills to the committee at LABtestimony@Capitol.hawaii.gov.
Please use a private/personal email address.
Send a separate copy of your testimony or concerns to UHPA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to read these bills go to the hearing notice and click on the bill no.
The proposals shift cost to current employees and those nearing retirement by removing benefits currently provided in EUTF health insurance plans and/or provided to employees upon retirement. These proposals are being advanced to obtain major concessions from employee unions without the state meeting its obligation to bargain.
These proposals fail to recognize the significant impact state and county employees have on our state’s economy. The more pressure that is placed on employees to bear all the increased costs of health care, the more likely the state revenue stream will lessen. It is also clear that some employees will be unable to continue to provide health care for their families. Some of the benefit cuts are for six years making it unlikely that benefit coverage provided today can ever be regained.
UHPA has continued to work with other unions to advance real discussions on the problems of health care premiums. To date, they have been met with silence by the Governor and legislature. These bills are an attempt to diminish employee’s voices in influencing their conditions of employment.
They are punitive in nature doing substantial harm to families and will
make it hard to maintain a quality higher education workforce. Faculty
will not see UH as a viable career option nor will faculty invest in
Email the House Committee and Labor and Public Employment by 8:30 am Friday, February 13, with testimony that you do not support these measures. Click to link to the Notice of Hearing which provides the email address and information on submitting testimony.
- HB1106 Relating to Public Employment
Seeks to protect the rights of public employees to health, retirement, leave and other benefits if furloughed. Implies that furloughs are a certainty without negotiating impact with unions. There is an assumption that furloughs will be imposed.
Also doesn’t preclude other legislation from taking current benefits away.
- HB1718 Relating to Employer-Union Health Benefits
If an employee eligible to retire and eligible for Medicare does not retire by December 31, 2009 they will not receive reimbursement for Medicare part B premiums. These premiums for part B which cover doctor’s services range from $96.40 to $238.40 per month per employee. This appears to be a negative incentive to move retirement eligible employees out of the workforce (See HB 1719). This creates a two tiered system of benefits. Future retirees will be penalized.
- HB 1719 Relating to Public Employees
If an employee retires after July 1, 2009 and is not eligible for Medicare the state and county employee will not receive employer provided health care. Retirees will be allowed to retain coverage by paying the premiums to EUTF. Coverage through the employer resumes after Medicare age is reached. This undermines the employees who have made career decisions based on access to health care upon retirement. It is an attempt to force employees into immediate retirement while creating a two tiered system of benefits for future retirees.
- HB1725 Relating to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund
Prohibits EUTF from providing prescription drug coverage. Allows EUTF to have a prescription benefits paid by the employee. The impact of this could be to increase premiums since access to prescription drugs often prevents other costly services like surgery. Finding an insurance carrier may be difficult because there needs to be assurances that a large number of employees will participate.
It is important that we know what you think. Please email a copy of your testimony to email@example.com.
Click here to view the complete news item.
The meeting produced no additional overtures regarding bargaining emphasizing instead the continued concerns of declining revenues. It was clear that cutting labor costs is seen as a major part of managing the economic downturn.
The Governor is expected to produce a significantly modified cost document to the legislature based on upcoming revenue projections.
The topics relate to retirement credit for sick leave, denying access to health care for certain retirees, requiring furloughs be a mandatory subject of bargaining, and a number of others. There will be other negative issues arising particularly in the budget process. There are also ideas or rumors that circulate during a legislative session to influence a situation or issue.
UHPA works with other organizations to impede and stop those items that will harm faculty members and other state employees. The overwhelmingly majority never move far through the legislative process.
It is early in the legislative session with an uncertain fiscal environment. This is leading to speculation and tension among legislators and many constituent groups. If you have concerns about legislation or information you need clarified please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.