The Governor’s NEW Offer and your shrinking salary

On Monday, January 23, 2017, the UHPA negotiating team met with the employer once again and received a NEW offer from the Governor…a 1% lump sum payment for the first year, a 1% lump sum payment  for the second year, and a flat rate  for EUTF contributions despite increasing healthcare costs.  As a result, most of you will see your paychecks shrink. Once again, the Governor’s representative was unable to answer any questions regarding the impact of the proposal on our members and the University as a whole.

The fiscal situation of the State was presented by the Budget & Finance Director, Wes Machida who shared that at the Council on Revenues January 4, 2017 meeting, it was reported that although the economy remains strong, due to lower than projected tax revenues, the projected general fund forecast decreased from 5.5% to 3.0% for fiscal year 2017.  This projection, combined with the inflated Employee Retirement System (ERS) unfunded liability, caused by a decrease in the assumed rate  of return from 7.5% to 7.0% and an increase in the life expectancy rate in Hawai‘i is forcing the State to “tighten its belt”.

The Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) provided the unions with the approved July 1, 2017 rates for the active plans.  As we expected, the majority of the health plans experienced rate increases, even beyond our expectation of 5%.

To illustrate the impact of the Governor’s offer, we have provided some examples below which take into account the 1% lump sum offer and the actual rate increase in EUTF health care premiums for the HMSA 80/20 and HMSA 90/10 health plans, the two plans that are selected by the majority of our members:

Example #1: over $2,000 in salary shrinkage

Chris is a rank 3 nine month faculty member at the minimum salary of $64,896, with family coverage under HMSA’s 80/20 Medical Plan, with vision, and dental coverage.


  • Salary – $64,896
  • Annual Employee EUTF Premium Contribution – $7,779.12


  • Salary – $64,896
  • 1% lump sum – $648.96 ($486.72)*
  • Annual Employee EUTF Premium Contribution – $10,264.80 (increase of $2,596.80)

If Chris chooses to stay with the same health plan, in one year, Chris’ salary will decrease roughly $2,110.08, even after receiving the 1% lump sum (after taxes).


Example #2: over $1,500 in salary shrinkage

Jamie is a rank 4 faculty member at the minimum salary, with two party coverage under HMSA’s 90/10 Medical Plan, with vision, and dental coverage.


  • Salary – $75,720
  • Annual EUTF Premium Contribution – $8,903.76


  • Salary – $75,720
  • 1% lump sum – $757.20 ($567.90)*
  • Annual EUTF Premium Contribution – $11,393.68 (increase of $2,489.72)

If Jamie chooses to stay with the same health plan, in one year, Jamie’s salary will decrease roughly $1,732.52, even after receiving the 1% lump sum (after taxes).

* This assumes a tax rate of 25%

Please note that these examples do not include any cost of living adjustments, which are projected at close to 3%, further shrinking your purchasing power.

New Faculty Rights! Your Letter of Hire Enforceable through the Collective Bargaining Agreement

On January 24, 2017 UHPA and UH concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on Letters of Hire. This was 16 months in the making and provides that items that are bargainable contained within a letter of hire can be enforced through the grievance procedure, including arbitration.

Key Provisions

  • All Unit 7 members must receive a written letter of hire.
  • Letters of Hire shall contain all terms and conditions of employment offered and accepted by the faculty member. No undocumented promise is enforceable.
  • All documents relating to the terms of hire shall be provided and attached to the letter of hire.
  • UHPA shall receive all letters of hire and may grieve violations of the collective bargaining agreement.
  • UH must consult with UHPA on hiring policies and procedures.


  • UHPA and the UH administration will be discussing templates that create clarity and consistency in letters of hire based on the respective campus needs. UH Manoa, due to the number of hires and complexity of issues, will be reviewed first.
  • As faculty members are engaged in hiring committees the collective bargaining agreement and the MOU on Letters of Hire should be given to potential new employees.

Always contact UHPA if you ever have questions or issues with your Letter of Hire.

Letters of Hire Actually Mean Something Now and the Promise of an MRI is Achieved

Dr. Bennett wins!

Dr. Kevin Bennett, whose fight to enforce his letter of hire included a grievance, an HLRB case, an agency appeal to Circuit Court, and the possibility of a new lawsuit in Circuit Court, has resulted in a robust settlement. The University will provide the MRI System and a functional laboratory that will allow the Dr. Bennett to continue his research and expand that which can occur in Hawaii.

Dispute over Letter of Hire promises

Dr. Bennetts was recruited to the University of Hawaii due to his work on early diagnosis of kidney disorders and his ability to establish and operate an MRI center that would enhance the work of other faculty members and allow his research to expand. Arriving in 2013 and believing that the University would provide the necessary equipment and support as agreed to in a letter of hire, Dr. Bennett proceeded to work toward the procurement of the MRI. While there were problems obtaining the original equipment, an alternative MRI was identified and the procurement process was proceeding. In Fall 2015, Dr.Bennett was informed by the Interim Dean of Natural Science that the equipment would not be purchased. The University contended that the letter of hire was not binding and could be unilaterally altered.

Dispute resolved by Dr. Bennett’s resolve

On January 24, a settlement was reached between Dr. Bennett, the University, and UHPA that ends the dispute and results in the necessary support for Dr. Bennett in advancing his work.

In addition to Dr. Bennett prevailing in his specific case, UHPA and UH have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding on Letters of Hire. These two settlements could not have been achieved without the commitment of Dr. Bennett and the UHPA Board of Directors to hold firm in their convictions that the University must honor its commitments to faculty members.

Grievance Settlement Brings $150,000 in Research Funds for Dr. Kathleen Cole

It took 15 months but starting January 1, 2017 Dr. Kathleen Cole received the settlement to her grievance based on her improper removal as Biology Department chair in September 2015. UHPA represented Dr. Cole through both a prohibited practice and a grievance. These actions were based upon facts which indicated her advocacy for faculty member, Dr. Kevin Bennett whose letter of hire was not honored, contributed to her removal as department chair.

With the dismissal of Dr. Cole in September 2015, the research support, provided as part of the agreement to serve as department chair, ended. This support allowed Dr. Cole to continue her research as well as provide support for three graduate students. The students were forced to file a student grievance to obtain support; Dr. Cole was left without the necessary resources to continue her research.

In late December 2016 UH Manoa administration and UHPA staff arrived at a settlement that replenishes the research support that should have been provided to Dr. Cole. There is recognition that Dr. Cole appropriately performed her duties as department chair.

The settlement of $150,000 will be paid over a two year time period allowing Dr. Cole and her graduate students to advance their research endeavors.