UHPA Board’s Resolution Regarding Occupy Wall Street

UHPA Resolution Regarding Occupy Wall Street

Higher education empowers all Hawaii residents and serves as the means to advance a just, equal, and fair society. The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly has been at the forefront of advocating for the right of all to an affordable, accessible quality higher education, whether it results in a certificate from a community college or a degree from one of the many University of Hawaii campuses. UHPA is committed to ensuring Hawaii students reach their full potential, with higher education serving as their path to a better life.

Whether teaching in the classroom, conducting research, or providing other essential services at the University, every day UHPA members’ work contributes to the efforts to achieve a just and fair society and promote democratic practices.

UHPA faculty members stand in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the actions throughout the country that promote economic, social and political justice. We recognize that a large majority of those across our country are outraged by the extreme income disparities in our society that have been caused by failed fiscal, tax and regulatory policies. We can no longer grant special favors or tax breaks to high income individuals and corporations while higher education is underfunded and dismissed as insignificant.

As employees, we decry the massive efforts to silence the voice of labor, demean and devalue the contributions of working men and women to a civil society, and blame organized labor for the economic woes of the country. These divisive efforts are misguided and must stop. 

UHPA believes it is important for Occupy Wall Street to succeed as a vehicle to change the political and economic forces that are destroying the American dream and tearing our nation apart. It is time to stand up and advance the cause of equity and fairness.

Adopted by the UHPA Board of Directors, October 22, 2011

APEC and Economic Justice?

APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, will be hosting a summit this November in Hawaii to promote a massive NAFTA-style trade agreement for the Pacific Rim.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is an Asia-Pacific regional trade agreement currently being negotiated among the United States and eight other countries including Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore,  Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam,  but is also intended as a “docking agreement” that other Pacific Rim countries would join over time, such as Indonesia, Russia, Japan, the Philippines and possibly even China. The ongoing, multi-year negotiations over the Trans-Pacific FTA are supposed to conclude by November 2011.  Even if that date slips, as is now expected, the window of opportunity for preventing the FTA from becoming a new “NAFTA for the Pacific Rim” is rapidly closing.  Here are some of the questions yet to be answered:

  • Labor rights: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include labor standards based on International Labor Organization conventions, and if included, how will they be enforced?
  • Investment Provisions: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include so-called “investor-to-state” provisions that allow individual corporations to challenge environmental, consumer and other public interest policies as barriers to trade?
  • Public Procurement: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA respect nations’ and communities’ right to set purchasing preferences that keep taxpayer dollars re-circulating in local economies?
  • Access to Medicines: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow governments to produce and/or obtain affordable, generic medications for sick people?
  • Agriculture: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow countries to ensure that farmers and farm workers are fairly compensated, while also preventing the agricultural dumping that has forced so many family farmers off their land?

About the Speaker: Lori Wallach is a trade lawyer, author and the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, an organization which promotes government and corporate accountability on issues involving trade and globalization. Wallach is a leading progressive voice on international trade and is an expert on domestic and international trade negotiations, disputes and policies including NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA and more. She is currently investigating the economic and labor implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will be discussed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Honolulu this November. For more information about Lori Wallach and her work click here or for more information about Global Trade Watch click here

Reminder UHPA Members – Check for UHPA Survey in your Private Email

This survey was sent only to UHPA members with a private email address.

  1. The sender is webmaster@uhpa.org
  2. The subject line says “UHPA Survey: Hawaii U.S. Senate and Congressional Races 2012”.
  3. The email will be dated October 17 (sometime in the afternoon).
  4. You should not forward your email or send a link to the survey because the survey is uniquely tied to your email address.

If you are an UHPA member and did not receive this survey at your private email address, it is possible that UHPA does not have a private email address for you or an incorrect one. Click here to email us your name & private email address.

 

 

Senator Jill Tokuda Proposes Incentive-Based Funding for Higher Education without Losing UH Autonomy

When Sen. Jill Tokuda (D) first joined the Hawaii legislature in 2006, making sure there was adequate funding for higher education was a challenge. Looking ahead to the upcoming 2012 legislative session, Sen. Tokuda, who has served as Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education since 2009, predicts funding for higher education will continue to be an issue.

“It’s become even more of a challenge because of the decline in state funding over the years,” she told the Faculty Representatives gathered at the Ala Moana Hotel on Saturday, October 15.  “Making the bucket bigger has been hard over the years. So how do we change the game?”

Although she said economists predict tight economic times ahead, she wanted to offer an “optimistic and hopeful” picture for the future, but one that is also “realistic.”

There is diversity of opinion among her fellow legislators regarding the level of funding and level of autonomy the UH should have, she said. Some legislators are in favor of more public funding for the UH, but this would come at the cost of losing autonomy for the UH.  For example, she said this may mean legislators would shape the direction of the campuses and programs in exchange for more funding.

While her colleagues’ views may run the gamut, Sen. Tokuda subscribes to a more “balanced” view. She proposes establishing a base funding for the campuses with additional funding contingent upon meeting specific benchmarks for growth.  This “earn it or lose it” incentive approach would enable campuses to obtain additional funding to add to the base.

“We know that you provide important services and programs to our constituents, you educate and prepare the workforce, and you should be rewarded for your achievements and growth,” said Sen. Tokuda, who represents the Windward Oahu neighborhoods of Kaneohe, Kailua, and Enchanted Lake.

Faculty representing the community colleges at the meeting pointed out that the benchmarks for such an incentive program need to be defined properly because typical measurements have focused on transfer or graduation rates, which may not be fair benchmarks to apply at community colleges absent other important factors.

For example, many may come to take specific courses such as accounting at a community college to help them in their current jobs, but these experiences would be discounted and be considered a failure if strictly using transfer or graduation rates as metrics of success.

Sen. Tokuda agreed that there need to be more high-value certificate programs that do not necessary require a degree because these certificate programs could be the nexus for success in the field.

Other concerns related to funding that faculty had an opportunity to raise with Sen. Tokuda included:

  • The need for cooperation on decision-making between UH administration and faculty.  A faculty member noted the Board of Regents approved an allocation of $500,000 to help with tuition for foreign students at the UH, but there was no corresponding assistance for UH students seeking to study abroad as exchange students.
  • The need to highlight faculty achievements. Sen. Tokuda said she realizes that achievements for higher education have not made front-page headlines, but that the media should highlight the successes of faculty to help avoid methodical cuts to programs.
  • The need to bridge the transition between high school and higher education. Faculty noted that many who enter the UH system need remediation courses in math and writing. Sen. Tokuda said she was aware of the issue and that each stage of education is critical to the overall success of Hawaii students. She noted that initiatives under way by the P-20 Council are exploring these inter-relationships along the education pipeline.

 

Occupy Honolulu March on October 15

Meet at Ala Moana and Atkinson and march down Kalakaua to Kapahulu.  Before the march at 9:30 a.m., we will be making signs at Magic Island.