HB 1619, Relating to Collective Bargaining

The House Committee on Higher Education

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2:00 p.m.

RE: HB1619, Relating to Collective Bargaining

Attention:    Chair Isaac Choy, Vice Chair Linda Ichiyama and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) strongly urges the committee to oppose HB1619 that would deny the right of a select group to have a voice in the workplace, receive protections of health and safety, job training and other work-related issues guaranteed by union membership.

This Bill penalizes a select group of unionized workers.  Their Constitutional protections should not be denied.

UHPA opposes HB1619.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman                                                                                                                                    Executive Director

HB1532, Relating to the University of Hawai‘i

The House Committee on Higher Education

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2:00 p.m.

Room 309

RE: HB1532, Relating to the University of Hawai‘i

Attention:    Chair Isaac Choy, Vice Chair Linda Ichiyama and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to oppose HB1532, that segregates out the Board of Regents from making “public” their financial disclosure forms.

There has remained within the checks and balances of members of Boards a need-to-know that ensures a conflict of interest does not exist.  It cannot be understated the importance of fair and equitable treatment to all members of Boards governing educational matters.  To segregate out the Board of Regents is to infer their right to privacy is far superior to any other who sits in authority over state budgetary management.

There are many ways to improve Section 84-17, Hawai‘i Revised Statutes regarding financial disclosures, but segregating out members of one Board as privileged over another is an inappropriate way to address the larger issues in this section.

UHPA urges the committee to oppose HB1532.

Respectfully submitted,


Kristeen Hanselman

Executive Director

Do we really need cops at Regents meetings?

Dear Fellow Faculty,

I am writing to you my colleagues, the faculty of the University of Hawai‘i, to express my concern about the apparent increasing distance between the Board of Regents and the students, faculty, and taxpayers of the State of Hawai‘i. This letter is triggered by my attendance at the last meeting of the BOR committee on personnel chaired by Ms. Coralie Chun Matayoshi. There were two police present throughout the meeting. And the subsequent full Regents’ meeting again had two police present.  This seems to have become a policy.

I emailed the Chair of the Board of Regents to ask why a police presence was necessary.  He did not reply but the Secretary of the Board (Ms. Cynthia Quinn) did: “Dear Mr. Duffy, Chair Moore forwarded your inquiry to this office.  As you know, board meetings are public meetings.  Security is a required protocol for crowd control to ensure the safety of the public, which includes the regents, administration, faculty and students.  The board complies, and defers to security to determine how long and to what extent security will be provided at public meetings held on the University campuses.”

Is the board so fearful of the university community that it needs protection?  What exactly is the threat that requires that the police be present? Angry Hawaiians? Irrational faculty?  Dangerous students? Irate football fans? Or is the board just afraid of free speech? If anywhere is about free and frank speech, it is a university. Free speech can be loud and it can make us all uncomfortable but it is essential to the creation and dissemination of knowledge, which is what universities are all about. And I should note that faculty don’t require and probably never even imagined the need for a “required protocol for crowd control” in our classes, some of which have larger attendance than board meetings.

The university has big problems that need solutions. Some on the board think that standardizing university web page appearance and teaching equivalencies constitute solutions, but we can solve the big problems only when we know what we want the university to be.  This is going to require a conversation involving the Regents, faculty, students, parents, legislators and taxpayers.  This process may be uncomfortable and even heated at times, but it will not be facilitated by a mindset that needs protection from others in the conversation.

The Regents must take the lead in helping the university community to find common ground that can lead to solutions, but they won’t be able to lead until they are less worried about security and more about developing an environment where security is not a concern.

David Cameron Duffy
Professor and President
The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly

Faculty Members Take On UH Over Claims of Broken Promises, Retribution

A case heard Thursday by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board alleges the university didn’t honor key conditions of one professor’s hire letter and retaliated against another.

Link to the article on Civil Beat

UH Mismanagement No Longer Confined to Athletics


Date:               February 2, 2016

Contact:         Kris Hanselman, Executive Director  (kris@uhpa.org / (808) 593-2157)


UH Mismanagement No Longer Confined to Athletics Department

Hawaii Labor Relations Board to Weigh Merits of Prohibited Practice Complaint
on Thursday, February 4, at 9 a.m.

Ongoing mismanagement of personnel and the breaking of promises at the University of Hawaii are no longer limited to the athletics department. These factors now impede good instruction and research, and threaten the ability to attract and retain quality faculty.

The same dysfunction is now becoming more evident in the academic arena, which has prompted the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) to file a prohibited practice complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board on behalf of two faculty members. UHPA is the union that represents nearly 4,000 faculty at all 10 UH campuses statewide.

University of Hawaii administrators will attempt to dismiss the complaint and will present oral arguments at a Hawaii Labor Relations Board hearing this Thursday, February 4, at 9 a.m. The hearing is open to media and the public.

The Hawaii Labor Relations Board conducts hearings to decide complaints filed by public and private sector employees, employee organizations or unions, and employers alleging prohibited or unfair labor practice complaints. In the public sector, the Board has jurisdiction over employers and employees of the State of Hawaii and counties, the Judiciary, the Department of Education, including the public charter schools, the University of Hawaii system, and the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation.

Kevin Bennett, Ph.D., an associate professor of biology at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, was recruited from Arizona State University in 2013 to establish a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) center to support local research. The research detects cells and molecules in the body, so that diseases can be treated at a very early stage, long before it affects a patient.

The MRI center is critical in cancer research, drug discovery, and neurological problems. It supports Bennett’s research in discovering cures for kidney disease through early detection of kidney damage. The research explores how to prevent worsening damage to the kidneys and other organs from chronic health problems such as hypertension and diabetes.

When Bennett joined the UH, initially the university was not able to provide the space for the MRI equipment and the selected vendor had stopped manufacturing the equipment. Undaunted and determined, Bennett found an alternative source for the MRI equipment in England. As an added benefit, the UH would be able to house this substitute equipment without extraordinary facility requirements.

During this period, Bennett was granted a well-deserved tenure because of the quality and significance of his work in teaching and research that involved using the MRI center at Arizona State University.

Elated with the news the MRI equipment would finally be coming to the UH after two and half years, there was teamwork among UH administrators, the dean at the time, faculty, and students. The UH could boast of its acquisition and look forward to having an MRI center of its own.

Bennett’s diligence was finally paying off. He had been patient and accommodating as he continued his research using out-of-state equipment. He also inspired and engaged graduate students in MRI research, all while fulfilling his teaching obligations.

Prohibited Practice Complaint
“There was a sense of anticipation at all levels at the UH, with support from vice presidents, vice chancellors of research, graduate students and other faculty.  After two years of hard work, the momentum abruptly ended in late September 2015,” said Kris Hanselman, Executive Director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

It all changed when Kristin Kumashiro, Ph.D. was named Interim Dean of Natural Sciences last summer. Just five weeks into her position, she pulled the plug on the MRI center, even though the funds were available and the UH was prepared to make the purchase.

Bennett was not the only one affected by the capricious whims of Kumashiro.  Kathleen Cole, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology at UH-Manoa, who was serving as Chair of the UH Department of Biology at the time, was stripped of her position and authority, apparently for siding with Bennett and others in her department.

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which represents faculty on contractual issues, intervened on behalf of Bennett and Cole, and filed the prohibited practice complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board.

As expected, University of Hawaii administrators will attempt to have the claim dismissed, contending they never made any promises to Bennett about an MRI center, even though this was expressly documented in a written letter of hire to Bennett.

“This sends an unsettling message to UH faculty. The UH administration do not feel compelled to honor the commitments they have made when hiring faculty,” Hanselman said. “A change of administrator means the career of a faculty member can come to a grinding halt. This impacts the ability to attract and retain faculty at the UH.”

“Current and prospective faculty should be wary of promises made to them when they are recruited to join the UH. Clearly, what they are promised, may not be what they end up with because of erratic decision making. This creates a very unpredictable work environment,” Hanselman added.

For more details on the prohibited practice complaint, download a PDF of the complaint:

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About the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly
The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) has been the exclusive bargaining agent for all UH faculty since 1974 and currently represents nearly 4,000 faculty members at 10 campuses in the University of Hawaii system statewide.

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