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.

The Hawai‘i Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) Health Care Benefits Open Enrollment

 

A memorandum was set to all State and County Employees from the EUTF Administrator regarding the delay of premium rates.  See rates below:

Information on Rates and Employee Premium Costs for BU 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 13 and All Retirees
EUTF and HSTA VB Health Benefit Premium Rates

The Open Enrollment information and Reference Guide is available on the EUTF website: http://eutf.hawaii.gov/main-1/oe2012/OE2012-EUTF.

Employees making changes to their health plan(s) must use the revised EC-1 form (revised Sept 2011):

• Form EC-1 – Enrollment Form for Active Employees (form-fillable): http://eutf.hawaii.gov/eutf-forms/EC-1%20rev%20SEPT%202011_fill.pdf.

• Form EC-1 – Enrollment Form Instructions: http://eutf.hawaii.gov/eutf-forms/INSTRUCTIONS%20FOR%20COMPLETING%20FORM%20EC1.pdf.

To learn more about the different plans and providers, the EUTF has scheduled Open Enrollment Informational Sessions on each island.  At these informational sessions, insurance carriers and the EUTF representatives will be on hand to answer your questions about the different benefit plans.  The schedule may be viewed at http://eutf.hawaii.gov/main-1/oe2012/2012%20OE%20Informational%20Session%20-EE.pdf.

Employees are required to take vacation leave to attend the open enrollment sessions.  The EUTF has not requested administrative time-off from the Governor for employees to attend these sessions.

For more information about the health care benefits, please visit the EUTF website at: http://eutf.hawaii.gov, or contact the EUTF at 586-7390. Questions may also be e-mailed to eutf@hawaii.gov.

 

 

FREE Event October 13 in Celebration of National Coming Out Day

About the documentary “Out at Work”

In 1992 Cheryl Summerville, a cook at a Cracker Barrel restaurant outside Atlanta, received a termination paper stating that she was fired for “failing to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” She was shocked to discover that in most of the US it is legal to fire workers simply because of their sexual orientation.  OUT AT WORK chronicles the stories of a cook, an auto worker and a librarian as they seek workplace safety, job security and benefits for LGBT workers.

Robert Hawk of the Sundance Film Festival noted: “Filled with humor, insight and moving fervor, OUT AT WORK offers a stirring experience for all of us.”  Scott Sloan of the Shepherd Express said: “OUT AT WORK is a well-researched, well-made documentary about gay life in the workplace. Its informative look at “routine” discrimination and harassment – including and out-and-out threats against gay workers – is an eye-opener for those who thought that everybody knew better in the 90s.”

Panel discussion

Following the showing of the documentary, there will be a panel discussion including working people from the public and private sector, both union and non-union – followed by a group discussion.  The panelists will share stories of their experiences – positive and negative – being out at work, and how they have coped, found allies, and made important changes in their workplaces and unions.  

The Impact of Discrimination on LGBT workers

With the passage of legislation creating civil unions in Hawai‘i, and the signing of a law making employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression illegal in the State, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers in Hawai‘i have achieved important steps toward equality.  However, LGBT working people continue to suffer the effects of homophobia and transphobia here and across the US.   For example, a July 2011 study by the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law found:

  • 27% of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) people had experienced at least one form of sexual orientation-based discrimination, 27% had experienced workplace harassment and 7% had lost a job;
  • Among LGB people who are open about their sexual orientation in the workplace, 38% experienced at least one form of discrimination during the five years prior to being surveyed;
  • Not surprisingly, more than one-third of LGB respondents to the survey reported that they were not out to anyone at work, and only 25% were out to all of their co-workers;
  • Discrimination and fear of discrimination can have negative effects on LGBT employees in terms of wages, job opportunities, mental and physical health, productivity, and job satisfaction;
  • Studies consistently show that gay men and lesbians earn significantly less than their heterosexual counterparts;
  • Other studies show that discrimination, fear of discrimination, and concealing one’s LGBT identity can negatively impact the well-being of LGBT employees, including their mental and physical health, productivity in the workplace, and job satisfaction.

A major study of Transgender people published in February 2011 by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force showed disturbingly overwhelming levels of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or gender expression:

  • Transgender survey respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate;
  • Ninety percent (90%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it;
  • Forty-seven percent (47%) said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming;
  • Over one-quarter (26%) reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming and 50% were harassed;
  • Large majorities attempted to avoid discrimination by hiding their gender or gender transition (71%) or delaying their gender transition (57%);
  • The vast majority (78%) of those who transitioned from one gender to the other reported that they felt more comfortable at work and their job performance improved, despite high levels of mistreatment.

Recent attacks on the most basic rights of workers to collectively bargain put at risk many gains LGBT workers have made through their union contracts, including domestic partnership health coverage and family leave, mandated anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and transgender health care.  

Please join us, and spread the word!  Pupus and drinks will be provided.

FREE Event October 13 in Celebration of National Coming Out Day

FREE Event October 13 in Celebration of National Coming Out Day

About the documentary “Out at Work”

In 1992 Cheryl Summerville, a cook at a Cracker Barrel restaurant outside Atlanta, received a termination paper stating that she was fired for “failing to demonstrate normal heterosexual values.” She was shocked to discover that in most of the US it is legal to fire workers simply because of their sexual orientation.  OUT AT WORK chronicles the stories of a cook, an auto worker and a librarian as they seek workplace safety, job security and benefits for LGBT workers.

Robert Hawk of the Sundance Film Festival noted: “Filled with humor, insight and moving fervor, OUT AT WORK offers a stirring experience for all of us.”  Scott Sloan of the Shepherd Express said: “OUT AT WORK is a well-researched, well-made documentary about gay life in the workplace. Its informative look at “routine” discrimination and harassment – including and out-and-out threats against gay workers – is an eye-opener for those who thought that everybody knew better in the 90s.”

Panel discussion

Following the showing of the documentary, there will be a panel discussion including working people from the public and private sector, both union and non-union – followed by a group discussion.  The panelists will share stories of their experiences – positive and negative – being out at work, and how they have coped, found allies, and made important changes in their workplaces and unions.  

The Impact of Discrimination on LGBT workers

With the passage of legislation creating civil unions in Hawai‘i, and the signing of a law making employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression illegal in the State, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) workers in Hawai‘i have achieved important steps toward equality.  However, LGBT working people continue to suffer the effects of homophobia and transphobia here and across the US.   For example, a July 2011 study by the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law found:

  • 27% of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) people had experienced at least one form of sexual orientation-based discrimination, 27% had experienced workplace harassment and 7% had lost a job;
  • Among LGB people who are open about their sexual orientation in the workplace, 38% experienced at least one form of discrimination during the five years prior to being surveyed;
  • Not surprisingly, more than one-third of LGB respondents to the survey reported that they were not out to anyone at work, and only 25% were out to all of their co-workers;
  • Discrimination and fear of discrimination can have negative effects on LGBT employees in terms of wages, job opportunities, mental and physical health, productivity, and job satisfaction;
  • Studies consistently show that gay men and lesbians earn significantly less than their heterosexual counterparts;
  • Other studies show that discrimination, fear of discrimination, and concealing one’s LGBT identity can negatively impact the well-being of LGBT employees, including their mental and physical health, productivity in the workplace, and job satisfaction.

A major study of Transgender people published in February 2011 by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force showed disturbingly overwhelming levels of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or gender expression:

  • Transgender survey respondents experienced unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate;
  • Ninety percent (90%) of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job or took actions like hiding who they are to avoid it;
  • Forty-seven percent (47%) said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming;
  • Over one-quarter (26%) reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming and 50% were harassed;
  • Large majorities attempted to avoid discrimination by hiding their gender or gender transition (71%) or delaying their gender transition (57%);
  • The vast majority (78%) of those who transitioned from one gender to the other reported that they felt more comfortable at work and their job performance improved, despite high levels of mistreatment.

Recent attacks on the most basic rights of workers to collectively bargain put at risk many gains LGBT workers have made through their union contracts, including domestic partnership health coverage and family leave, mandated anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and transgender health care.  

Please join us, and spread the word!  Pupus and drinks will be provided.

Protecting the Rights of All Public Sector Union Members

As the exclusive representative to nearly 4,000 University of Hawaii faculty members statewide, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) takes its role in promoting fair collective bargaining processes seriously. We are also keenly aware that what occurs with other public sector unions can impact UHPA members and the overall collective bargaining climate in Hawaii. When collective bargaining rights are violated or if there are decisions under consideration by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) that can potentially impact members of all Hawaii public sector unions, UHPA feels it has an obligation to intervene.

Click here for more information.

Show Your Support for Striking Local 5 Hyatt Waikiki Workers

The Hyatt Waikiki workers’ one week strike is part of a coordinated action with Hyatt workers in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

 

HLRB Member Sesnita Moepono Remarks Upon Recusing Herself from the Hawaii Labor Relations Board

SESNITA MOEPONO’S SPEECH 8/18/11 BEFORE THE HLRB:

I have been concerned with the accusations, innuendos and scurrilous remarks made about my integrity and inability to be impartial because I was appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.  I have asked myself what difference should it make when HRS Section 26-34 mandates that all members of a Board and Commission be nominated and appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.  Are all members of any state board and commission and judges impartial because of the very nature of the appointment process? 

During my confirmation process and since then, at the beginning of every case involving HSTA, I have disclosed the fact that my husband is a member of HSTA and a Student Services Coordinator and my sister is also a retiree member of HSTA. 

I have consistently stated that I can be impartial in any case involving HSTA.  All employer legal representatives have stated they have no problems with my disclosure and HSTA has consistently stated they reserve the right to object at a later date.  In fact, I am so relieved that HSTA has treated me no differently than the other members of this Board in their attacks on our integrity and impartiality. 

I have always strived to be independent so much so that I intentionally kept my maiden name when I married.  My husband and I have supported each other through our careers where we could as he is doing today.  My husband up to now has been just a name.  Let’s put a face to this name, at this time I would like to introduce my husband, Charles A Fern, a member of HSTA and a Student Services Coordinator with Hickam Elementary School who took half a day leave to be here today and our lovely daughter, Alise Fern. 

However, our careers have strictly been our own achievements and separate from our marriage.  So much so, that I have not even discussed with him the attacks that have been hurled against me by his own union, his colleagues up to now.   But I am certain he would be somewhat disappointed and perhaps furious. 

I and my fellow board members have been the subject of attacks by innuendos, false statements, hearsay, and scurrilous remarks contained in legal documents regarding our inability to remain impartial to decide this case.  More recently a complaint was filed with our State Ethics Commission on Monday of this week by HSTA, although I have not read the complaint, I was told by our State Ethics Commission the complaint included a transcript in which I disclosed my husband’s membership in HSTA. 
 
This disclosure prompted an inquiry by the Ethics Commission on whether my husband’s membership with HSTA was covered under HRS § 84-14(a)(1) in this case.  Yesterday, the Ethics Commission concluded and ruled that under HRS § 84-14(a)(1) my husband’s membership with HSTA and his position as a Student Services Coordinator is an undertaking in which he has a SUBSTANTIAL FINANCIAL INTEREST, and the outcome of this case may affect his SUBSTANTIAL FINANCIAL INTEREST AND THEREFORE I must disqualify myself in this case. 

Therefore, I am recusing myself from this case based on the Ethics Commission oral ruling limited to this case only. 
   
Before, I leave this case today, I would like to impart the following. 

Sometimes we need to be reminded by those in our past who fought and sacrificed to make Hawaii a great place to live.  I accepted this appointment because I believe that I can contribute to making the collective bargaining process an even better process, that my late parents fought hard to create and preserve as public employees.  A process that enabled my mother to be the first secretary of HGEA at a time where woman’s rights didn’t exist and public collective bargaining was a new frontier.  I am sure that my parents would be proud of me and my appointment to this Board and perhaps view it as a reward to their efforts as union members and public employees.  

And although I was raised by parents who were staunch union members and supporters, I have never thought of myself as a union person because I have never been a union member.  However, my past is part of who I am and I am reminded every day of the concepts and knowledge that I inherited from parents.  Above all, they taught me to do things with the utmost integrity because it defines who I am.  They taught me that to earn respect you have to give respect.  If they were alive today, they would remind me that this case isn’t about any one individual, this case is about all of us and how we as members of this society are obligated to uphold the public policy as dictated in Chapter 89.   Intervenor-UHPA was correct in re-stating the intent of Chapter 89 where “The Legislature declares that it is the public policy of the State to promote HARMONIOUS AND COOPERATIVE RELATIONS between government and its employees and to protect the public by assuring effective and orderly operations of government.” The key words are “PROTECT THE PUBLIC.” 

I am reminded every day by the words of a close friend, Pono Shim and his father a famous labor attorney the late Alvin Shim, who drafted a Statute called “Aloha Spirit”, HRS Section 5-7.5 in which Uncle Alvin left his legacy to remind us what “Aloha” means when at times it seems we may have forgotten.

[§5-7.5]  “Aloha Spirit”.  (a)  “Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person.  It brings each person to the self.  Each person must think and emote good feelings to others.  In the contemplation and presence of the life force, “Aloha”, the following unuhi laula loa may be used:

“Akahai”, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;            “Lokahi”, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
“Oluolu”, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
“Haahaa”, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
“Ahonui”, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii’s people.  It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.  “Aloha” is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.  “Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.  “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.  “Aloha” means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

(b)  In exercising their power on behalf of the people and in fulfillment of their responsibilities, obligations and service to the people, the legislature, governor, lieutenant governor, executive officers of each department, the chief justice, associate justices, and judges of the appellate, circuit, and district courts may contemplate and reside with the life force and give consideration to the “Aloha Spirit”. [L 1986, c 202, §1]

Mahalo for allowing me to make these statements and ALOHA!