Legislative Action Being Proposed and Class Action Law Suit filed over UH Data Breaches

As a result of these breaches, the personal information of about 110,000 faculty, students, alumni and others were compromised, including names, social security numbers, and dates of birth. The incidents occurred at Kapiolani Community College in April 2009, involving information on students who applied for financial aid; at the Pacific Aviation Training Center at Honolulu Community College in February 2010; in the Auxiliary Enterprise department of the UH-Manoa Parking Office in June 2010; and at the UH-West Oahu in October 2010.

Legislative Action

In the upcoming legislative session, Sen. Mike Gabbard said he plans to introduce legislation, modeled after proposals offered by the Liberty Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit civil liberties watchdog group. The coalition is calling for more transparency and accountability, recommending that Hawaii law require organizations responsible for data breaches to provide specific information on the nature of the breach.

The coalition also suggests the state establish a “Breach Victims Trust Account” to be administered by a “Victims Advocacy Agency” and funded by culpable organizations. The money would be available to identity fraud victims.  The coalition also recommends that organizations involved in a data breach be required to conduct independent audits as a remedial action.

Sens. Jill Tokuda and Carol Fukunaga, both of whom were endorsed by UHPA in the recent election, announced they will hold an informational briefing with UH administration officials to look into the security breach issue in January.

Legal Action

On November 18, Bruce F. Sherman, attorney with Hawaii-based Grand Law Offices, filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the UH administration on behalf of those who were put at risk in the four data breaches. The lawsuit seeks an injunction forbidding the UH from violating the U.S. and Hawaii constitutional right to privacy by unauthorized release of private information and mandating the UH to take appropriate steps to ensure personal information that it has in its possession is protected.  The class action suit also seeks compensation for expenses incurred by the victims for enrollment in a credit monitoring program and identity theft insurance.

Personal Action

You do not need to take any action to be a part of this lawsuit; however, victims of the October 18, 2010 breach in which sensitive information was exposed on a UH-West Oahu web server, should take personal action. You can find out what type of information was released by going to www.nationalidwatch.org and entering your name. To protect yourself and identify, please take care of this as soon as possible before the end of the year.

 

More Information

For more information about the four data breaches, visit www.uhdatabreachlawsuit.com or contact attorney Bruce F. Sherman at (808) 221-0901.

Lump Sum Payment is Creditable for ERS…

Unfortunately President Greenwood’s letter to faculty members dated September 17, 2010 is misleading and causes confusion by many readers regarding their right to earned wages and credit for the purpose of pension calculation.  Representatives of UHPA were not sent a copy of the letter. 

The part in question is included (emphasis added) the following excerpted text:

“As you are aware, in accordance with the 2009-2015 Unit 7 agreement, the base salaries of faculty members hired on or before December 31, 2009, and paid from appropriated funds (e.g., general, special, revolving or appropriated federal funds), were temporarily decreased by six and two-thirds percent (6.667%).  The agreement also included a provision allowing for an exemption to the reduction for faculty members retiring on or before December 31, 2010.  Faculty members retiring after December 31, 2010 will be entitled to a lump sum payment equal to the remaining balance of the pay reduction; however, the lump sum payment will not be considered earned wages and will not be creditable for the purpose of pension calculation.”

On September 25, 2010, UHPA’s Chief Negotiator and Executive Director, Dr. J.N. Musto, forwarded an electronic message to President Greenwood notifying her of the error and requested that her office issue a correction to all of those who received this notification.

Dr. Musto stated in part, “The highlighted statement is incorrect based upon the agreement of the parties when the contract language was agreed to.  Since the temporary salary reduction was to be terminated if an individual indicated that they would retire no later than December 31, 2010, and any salary withheld would then be returned in a lump sum, it is earned income during this year for the purposes of the ERS.  The three lump sum pay outs that will be returned to all continuing faculty in subsequent years will also be used in the ERS calculation if the faculty member works before the date of receiving the lump sum payment.  Should they retire and receive all of the withheld temporary salary reduction in a lump sum at that time, then it would be treated as a vacation payout and not included in the retirement calculation.”

Both the UH System-HRO and UHPA have addressed these questions in the Q&A sections of their respective web-sites.  There is agreement on these issues.  For example: 

Faculty Question #1: “If I tell the administration that I will retire by December 31, 2010, will they stop the 6.67% reduction, return the money withheld, and calculate my pension based on the salary earned without the reduction?”

UHPA’s Response: Yes, to all three points if you retire on December 31st.  Note, you have to make your retirement application with the ERS NO LATER than December 1, 2010. 

Faculty Question #2: “What happens if I retire after December 31st?”

UHPA’s Response:  If you retire after December 31st, you will get all the money back that was withheld, but it is paid out over three years if you wanted it counted in your pension.  However, you’ll get all the money back in a lump sum if you retire after December 31st but it is not used in calculating your pension. 

Lump Sum Payment is Creditable for ERS…

Unfortunately President Greenwood’s letter to faculty members dated September 17, 2010 is misleading and causes confusion by many readers regarding their right to earned wages and credit for the purpose of pension calculation.  Representatives of UHPA were not sent a copy of the letter. 

The part in question is included (emphasis added) the following excerpted text:

“As you are aware, in accordance with the 2009-2015 Unit 7 agreement, the base salaries of faculty members hired on or before December 31, 2009, and paid from appropriated funds (e.g., general, special, revolving or appropriated federal funds), were temporarily decreased by six and two-thirds percent (6.667%).  The agreement also included a provision allowing for an exemption to the reduction for faculty members retiring on or before December 31, 2010.  Faculty members retiring after December 31, 2010 will be entitled to a lump sum payment equal to the remaining balance of the pay reduction; however, the lump sum payment will not be considered earned wages and will not be creditable for the purpose of pension calculation.”

On September 25, 2010, UHPA’s Chief Negotiator and Executive Director, Dr. J.N. Musto, forwarded an electronic message to President Greenwood notifying her of the error and requested that her office issue a correction to all of those who received this notification.

Dr. Musto stated in part, “The highlighted statement is incorrect based upon the agreement of the parties when the contract language was agreed to.  Since the temporary salary reduction was to be terminated if an individual indicated that they would retire no later than December 31, 2010, and any salary withheld would then be returned in a lump sum, it is earned income during this year for the purposes of the ERS.  The three lump sum pay outs that will be returned to all continuing faculty in subsequent years will also be used in the ERS calculation if the faculty member works before the date of receiving the lump sum payment.  Should they retire and receive all of the withheld temporary salary reduction in a lump sum at that time, then it would be treated as a vacation payout and not included in the retirement calculation.”

Both the UH System-HRO and UHPA have addressed these questions in the Q&A sections of their respective web-sites.  There is agreement on these issues.  For example: 

Faculty Question #1: “If I tell the administration that I will retire by December 31, 2010, will they stop the 6.67% reduction, return the money withheld, and calculate my pension based on the salary earned without the reduction?”

UHPA’s Response: Yes, to all three points if you retire on December 31st.  Note, you have to make your retirement application with the ERS NO LATER than December 1, 2010. 

Faculty Question #2: “What happens if I retire after December 31st?”

UHPA’s Response:  If you retire after December 31st, you will get all the money back that was withheld, but it is paid out over three years if you wanted it counted in your pension.  However, you’ll get all the money back in a lump sum if you retire after December 31st but it is not used in calculating your pension. 

Lump Sum Payment is Creditable for ERS…

UH FURLOUGHS … DNA

 

It has come to the Union’s attention that some Deans have sent out a communication to all their UH employees, non faculty and faculty members alike, regarding “furlough days”.  The Union was not copied.  Since the 2009-2015 Agreement refers to “administrative leave days”, and not “furlough days” faculty members should know with confidence that the two terms are NOT interchangeable.  Our contract calls for paid administrative leave days.  The language is found in Reference 19, MOU on Administrative Leave and refers to the Employer exercising its rights to grant administrative days of leave with pay for all faculty members for 2010-2011; included are the following days 1) the day after Thanksgiving; 2) four working days preceding Christmas; 3) four working days preceding New Year’s Day; and 4) four working days preceding Kuhio Day.

 

Note that “If a Faculty Member’s duties require that he or she work during one of the administrative leave days, then the Faculty Member shall receive a comparable leave day with the concurrence of his or her supervisor.  Such alternate leave days shall not include days in which a Faculty Member is scheduled to teach a class.”

                                                                

UH FURLOUGHS … DNA

 

It has come to the Union’s attention that some Deans have sent out a communication to all their UH employees, non faculty and faculty members alike, regarding “furlough days”.  The Union was not copied.  Since the 2009-2015 Agreement refers to “administrative leave days”, and not “furlough days” faculty members should know with confidence that the two terms are NOT interchangeable.  Our contract calls for paid administrative leave days.  The language is found in Reference 19, MOU on Administrative Leave and refers to the Employer exercising its rights to grant administrative days of leave with pay for all faculty members for 2010-2011; included are the following days 1) the day after Thanksgiving; 2) four working days preceding Christmas; 3) four working days preceding New Year’s Day; and 4) four working days preceding Kuhio Day.

 

Note that “If a Faculty Member’s duties require that he or she work during one of the administrative leave days, then the Faculty Member shall receive a comparable leave day with the concurrence of his or her supervisor.  Such alternate leave days shall not include days in which a Faculty Member is scheduled to teach a class.”

                                                                

UH FURLOUGHS … DNA

UHPA’s Campaign Approach Yields Positive Results

The weeks leading up to the General Election were intense. Polls showed former U.S. Congressman Neil Abercrombie leading by a small margin and Republican gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona leading in a favorability poll.

With a lot at stake for UHPA members in this election, UHPA took quick, decisive action, producing three new, high-quality TV and radio spots as well as three direct mail pieces, all within less than two weeks. Despite the inundation of negative advertising on the airwaves and mailboxes, much of it financed by national organizations from the Mainland, UHPA took the high road, focusing on the track record and positive attributes of Neil Abercrombie and what he can do for Hawaii’s future. Both the messages and the way they were executed helped UHPA break through the clutter of other commercials and mailers.

“We heard from voters that they wanted to know about the candidates — what they’ve done, what they stood for and what they could do for Hawaii,” said Kris Hanselman, who directed the independent expenditure campaign. “We bucked the trend, resisted the temptation to resort to negative advertising, and delivered UHPA’s messages in a positive, compelling way with visual impact that we believe contributed to Neil’s victory.”

Hanselman confirmed UHPA’s approach was on target, noting that a recent report showed negative ads constituted 54% of the communications, while only 30% of communications addressed the attributes of candidates.

In addition to the governor’s race, UHPA also scored a major victory with former Senate President Colleen Hanabusa claiming the 2nd District seat in U.S. Congress, beating Charles Djou. He served in that role after winning a special election held earlier this year to fill the seat vacated by Neil Abercrombie, when Abercrombie announced he was running for governor.

As many of the winning candidates stated in their victory speeches last night, this is just the beginning. UHPA members must continue to remain vigilant and ensure candidates that are supportive of the UH and faculty get into office.

“We made a substantial investment in our independent campaigns, and we have become a major force to be reckoned with in the eyes of many in the community,” said J.N. Musto, UHPA Executive Director. “Kris took political endorsements to a new level for UHPA.  We must continue the momentum, be actively engaged in the legislative process, and be ready for the 2012 election, which we anticipate will be just as intense and contentious as the election we’ve experienced this year.”