Why does UHPA invest in legislative activities?

In an ideal world, University of Hawaii faculty would be able to focus on what they do best—research and teaching—and they would in turn receive the appreciation and professional respect due them. This would be reflected in favorable public policies and state appropriations that support the UH, its faculty and programs.

Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. It has been imperative for UHPA, which represents the faculty, to step forward to intervene, defend and proactively shape legislation to ensure faculty are being treated respectfully.

Upcoming Session Requires Ongoing Vigilance

You can count on the UHPA team to continue to be involved on behalf of faculty in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Wednesday, January 15, 2020, and continues through Thursday, May 7, 2020. It will be an intense, 60-day period that requires vigilance, tenacity, perseverance. Here is the schedule for the 2020 legislative session. 

Top three reasons UHPA is actively involved in the legislature:

  1. The University of Hawaii is an autonomous organization, but initial funding decisions rest in the hands of state legislators, particularly those who are on the Senate and House Committees on Higher Education. Since many do not differentiate between the UH administration and UH faculty, legislation designed to hold the UH administration accountable may have the unintended consequence of adversely impacting UH faculty. It is important UHPA makes this distinction by ensuring UH faculty have their own collective voice in the legislature.
  2. UH administration and UHPA should be tied at the hip when approaching legislators. What is good for UH is good for UH faculty, and vice versa. However, we know UH administration and UH faculty have not been unified. UH faculty have had to fend for themselves to avoid having their rights trampled upon by legislators. We remain hopeful one day faculty can feel confident that UH administration has their back and will support their rights while also supporting the UH.
  3. A quick glance at the types of legislation proposed in the upcoming session reveals that we will be starting off the new year and new decade with some tough challenges. Many of the bills being introduced relate to funding UH programs. We will be closely monitoring bills, actively providing testimony, and having heart-to-heart, one-to-one meetings with legislators this coming session.

For your reference, follow this link to see the legislative bills affecting UH programs and faculty.

2020 UHPA Legislative Agenda


December has arrived and it is time to prepare for the 2020 Legislative Session.  Your legislative team will now include the members of the UHPA Board of Director’s Political Endorsement Committee.  We are excited with the expansion of our legislative team.  The team prepared the Legislative Agenda for 2020 and presented it first at the October 19, 2019 Faculty Forum for their review and input. It then went before the Board of Directors at their November 2, 2019 BOD meeting and was approved for implementation.  Top priority is the Collective Bargaining appropriations Bill.  For full details please see link below.

As we start the first legislative newsletter for the 2020 session, we would like to provide you with a few resource links

Board of Regents Financial Reports Budget

UH Budget Documents

UHPA Bill Tracking

Aloha Kākou! Message From Christian Fern, Executive Director

Aloha Kākou!

It is an honor and privilege to be serving as Executive Director of the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly (UHPA). I appreciate the Board of Directors’ vote of confidence by selecting me to succeed Kris Hanselman to build upon the solid foundation she, and her predecessor J.N. Musto, have established. I owe a debt of gratitude to Kris for providing me the opportunity to work with her over the past five years. My appreciation for the role and work of UHPA and my commitment to serving the faculty have grown exponentially over the years. We are fortunate that Kris will continue to be available to provide support to me and UHPA through the end of January 2020 to help ensure a smooth transition.

Looking to the future

Ashley Maynard, President of UHPA’s Board of Directors, told me it was important to have someone who can successfully lead UHPA into the future. I am up to that challenge. The University of Hawai‘i – Mānoa is my alma mater, and I am a proud graduate. Across our state, the University of Hawai‘i System and UHPA have so much to offer the community, and we have only begun to scratch the surface.

Our University of Hawai‘i campuses statewide are places of transformation

I can speak from my own experience. When I was a student, it was my political science professor, Phyllis Turnbull, who set me on an exciting path. When there was an internship opportunity at the legislature, she said, “Why don’t you apply and see if you like it?” She spoke just the right words at the right time. She must have seen something in me that I didn’t see in myself. Her words gave me a newfound confidence. It turned out to be a rewarding, memorable experience. I was hooked on the political process and public policy as a result of that internship.

Faculty cultivates our future workforce

I’ve often wondered how many other students have been touched and transformed by conversations like these with their professors throughout our University system. Business, government and community leaders are where they are today because of these types of interactions and connections with their professors. It is a powerful realization. We need to take care of our faculty, so that they can continue to nurture and cultivate homegrown talent who will become the workforce of the future. UHPA supports faculty so they can in turn continue to inspire the next generation to take their rightful place and help them realize their full potential.

The University of Hawai‘i and its faculty are the cornerstones for economic growth and vitality in our state.

They are intricately connected to our quality of life. As a state, when we do not invest in these assets, we pay the consequences. When we try to cut corners, and hire part-time faculty instead of full-time faculty who are willing to go above and beyond to help their students succeed, we see enrollment drop and students choosing mainland institutions over the vast opportunities we have here at our home institutions.

Our University of Hawai‘i campuses are not viewed as a first choice for colleges among many Hawai‘i residents because many have been conditioned to think these campuses are inferior, which is often reflected in our state’s decisions and actions. We have become our own worst enemy and have created self-fulfilling prophecies. Even I have faced this challenge. My decision to return home from a mainland college to finish at the University of Hawai‘i to save my family money on tuition was met with mixed reactions from my own family. Yet, it was a decision I will never regret.

We will do more as allies

As a state, we have bigger challenges ahead of us and need to start defining and shaping the future we want for Hawai‘i. Instead of expending energy attacking each other and believing the worst about each other, it’s time to work together to find solutions. Instead of being adversaries, we need to see each other as allies. We can accomplish so much more when we collaborate together.

Workforce development for our future here in Hawai‘i is right at our fingertips, through the University of Hawai‘i campuses, by our faculty.

Faculty are already addressing many of the issues raised by legislative and community leaders. Faculty are helping to address the teacher shortage through the College of Education at Mānoa, and all other campuses statewide. Faculty are helping achieve our food sustainability initiatives through our tropical agricultural and culinary programs. Faculty on our campuses are training our future physicians, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, dental hygienists and technicians, and other healthcare professions. Community college faculty are helping our brothers and sisters in the building trades by training and developing a sustainable workforce for the future. All faculty are helping address the 55 by 25 statewide initiative to have 55% of Hawai‘i adults earn a college degree by 2025.

We all have the potential for positive future impact

These are just a few examples. Thanks to our faculty, all areas at the University of Hawai‘i campuses have the potential to prepare the next generation to fill important needs in communities across our state and to address the state’s real concerns. This requires a change in mindset, and it requires support. Faculty cannot fulfill their responsibilities without adequate resources. Just trying to make do and get by with what they have and compromising their standards should no longer be acceptable if we want to raise our community to a new level.

It’s time to forge new connections and get serious about job creation

But we cannot stop there. We can make sure faculty are treated respectfully and students graduate with all of the right skill sets, but to what end if there are no jobs available for them to stay in Hawai‘i? UHPA can play a pivotal role in bringing the community together to start serious conversations about job creation. It will mean forging new connections and sitting down together, face-to-face, with those who we typically have not been in the room with before. Imagine what Hawaii would be like if UHPA leaders and faculty got together with leaders from government, business and the community. We would roll up our sleeves and work elbow-to-elbow to collectively chart our course for Hawai‘i’s future. No more silos, no more fiefdoms, but everyone looking at the greater good of Hawai‘i.

Collective Bargaining and our contract are foundational priorities

You may have noticed that not once have I mentioned collective bargaining rights and contract maintenance and enforcement. This was intentional. Of course, those concerns will always be priorities and UHPA will always stand by faculty. However, as we begin to move forward together with others, my hope is that there will be a healthier respect for faculty and that the thoughts and input from UHPA and our faculty members will always be considered in making major decisions. I believe we will get to that place and would like to invite you to join me in being a catalyst for positive change.

Mahalo for allowing me to serve as your Executive Director. I look forward to working closely with our members and bringing the community closer together.

Me ke aloha,

Christian Fern

2019 UH Executive & Managerial Salaries Updated

Head on over to the Executive Managerial Salaries page within Salary Research to browse the latest data set as supplied by the Office of Human Resources. You can narrow your search to division and/or campus. This data typically gets updated each year.

Considering Landed Mortagage Assistance? Use this handy tool

During our Fall 2019 campus visits, UHPA summarized the value proposition offered by Landed.  We developed a spreadsheet of calculations and have decided to make this available to UHPA members for their own use.  It’s a Google sheet, so just access it here (members only – here’s how to get in), make a copy, and follow the instructions at the top of the sheet.

Our goal is to give you the facts via calculation so that you can make a fully informed decision on your home purchase.

This content is made available to UHPA Members only via our Google Drive files. If you’re not a member, signup is quick and easy via our online form.

The Cost of Not Joining UHPA

Guest post by UHPA Member Randy Hirokawa,

In my formative years as a young assistant professor, I admit not being a proponent of faculty unions. I believed in the integrity of universities, and the administrators who ran them. I believed that if you did your work well, you would steadily climb the tenure and promotion ladder and be rewarded appropriately. All of that changed in 1986. Allow me to tell you my story.

I started as an assistant professor

Upon receiving my Ph.D. in 1980, I took my first assistant professor position at a well-known public university on the East Coast (“University X”). At University X, I taught well, published regularly, and served on a variety of committees. I was rewarded with positive pre-tenure reviews in my 1st and 3rd years, and double-digit percentage merit pay increases in each of those three years.

And then was recruited to a university with a top doctoral program

At the start of my 4th year at University X, I was recruited by a well-known public university in the Midwest (“University Y”). The graduate program at University Y was widely regarded as the top doctoral program in my field of study, and some of the top scholars in my field were on their faculty. It was an opportunity too good to pass up so I accepted a faculty position at University Y.

I received lots of lucrative promises in the offer letter

In my offer letter, I was promised a salary that was significantly higher than what I had been making at University X, and along with other perks and benefits, I was told that I would receive four years of credit toward tenure and promotion, thereby allowing me to apply for tenure and promotion in my second year at University Y.

Then we got a new dean

In my first year at University Y, I continued to teach well, publish regularly, and serve on committees. Everything seemed to be going well. Behind the scenes, though, a very important change was happening: The dean of the college who hired me had decided to retire and a new dean was appointed. This new dean had different ideas about how to run the college, and one of those changes was to make the tenure and promotion process more stringent.

Who then broke the terms in my offer letter

In the summer prior to my 2nd year at University Y, with the guidance of my department chair, I prepared my tenure and promotion dossier. All of the required documentation was included. At the start of the Fall Semester, my department chair submitted my dossier to the College in accordance with standard procedures. Shortly thereafter, the department chair received a phone call from the new dean informing him that I could not apply for tenure and promotion because I did not have the minimum three years of service at University that was specified in the College’s Manual of Rules and Procedures. The department chair told the dean that it was true that I had only been at University Y for two years, but that my offer letter specifically stated that I would be allowed to apply for tenure and promotion in my 2nd year. The dean replied that he was under no obligation to comply with any agreements or promises made by the previous dean, especially if they appeared to violate the Manual of Rules and Procedures. The department chair filed a protest with the Provost. The Provost supported the dean. The department chair then appealed to the President. The President supported the Provost. I was not allowed to apply for tenure and promotion that year. Was I wronged? You bet I was. So much so that my department chair resigned from the university in protest.

Stuff happens but without a union, you have no real recourse

The point of this story is that even at the finest universities, mistakes happen; oversights occur; poor judgment takes place; bad decisions are made. Those are organizational realities that exist at all universities. The difference is how they are handled, or dealt with, on non-unionized versus unionized campuses. At University Y, like at most non-unionized campuses, once the appeal process reaches, and is denied, at the Presidential level, there is no further recourse for a faculty member. He/she can file a legal lawsuit against the university, but doing so comes at great cost to the faculty member. In my case, I was strongly advised by my senior colleagues to “bide my time” and not take any legal action. I did as I was told.

With UHPA and our letter of hire, we have the power to enforce written agreements

At unionized campuses, the presence of a faculty union (like UHPA) provides faculty members with a means of appeal that is not available to faculty at a non-unionized campus. If what happened to me had occurred at the University of Hawaii, I would have immediately reported the matter to my union representative, and I’m certain UHPA would have gone to bat for me against the administration. Offer letters are sacrosanct, and we now have contractual protection of them Promises made in those letters are the reason(s) why faculty members decide to join the university. A new dean must abide by the conditions of the offer letter, whether she/he agrees or disagrees with its content. UHPA will make sure that the commitments of the offer letter are honored by the university.

It’s not about what it costs to join. It’s about what it will cost you if you don’t join

When faculty ask me what the benefits are of joining UHPA, I flip the question and tell them, “The question you should be asking is what is the COST of NOT joining UHPA?” I then tell them the story of what happened to me at University Y, and then ask them, if the same thing happened to you here at UH, could you afford NOT to be a member of UHPA? Think about it.


Christian Fern Named Executive Director

Christian Fern Named Executive Director of University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA)

UHPA board of directors unanimously voted Christian Fern as the new executive director, effective December 1, 2019.

Fern, who has served as an associate executive director with UHPA since July 2015, succeeds Kristeen Hanselman, who joined UHPA in December 2007. Hanselman will continue to serve as executive director, a position she has held for the past four years, to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

“We began to discuss the leadership transition process in February this year and conducted an exhaustive search as part of our due diligence,” said Ashley Maynard, president of the UHPA board of directors. “We reviewed a number of candidates, and Christian’s leadership experience and understanding of legislative advocacy, collective bargaining, and the challenges faculty face, made him the ideal choice to continue to lead the union forward.”

Prior to serving as an associate executive director for UHPA, Fern worked for the state’s two largest health plans, HMSA and Kaiser Permanente. He worked at HMSA for 16 years in progressively responsible roles that led to his position as manager of the Employer-Union Trust Fund and federal plan. At Kaiser Permanente, he was manager of large accounts for state and federal plans.

Fern worked as a legislative intern for the Senate Judiciary Committee while he was a University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa political science student, and returned to the Senate Judiciary Committee as a committee clerk after he graduated.

“Being a part of UHPA has provided me with valuable insights and a deep understanding of the issues facing Hawai‘i’s public sector unions and the University of Hawai‘i,” Fern said. “In this post-Janus world, the public-sector unions will need to continue to provide traditional forms of union representation while seeking new and innovative opportunities to connect with members and prospective members.”

“It has been a pleasure to work with Christian as he gained exposure to the different challenges of union representation,” Hanselman said, noting that Fern has represented members on grievances and arbitrations, worked with faculty and the UH administration on contract enforcement and interpretation, participated in lobbying at the State Legislature to represent faculty interests, and been involved in short- and long-range strategic planning.

Fern, a Honolulu resident, is a Punahou School graduate and received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa. He also completed the Advanced Labor Studies Program at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Gov. David Ige appointed Fern to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund, and Fern now serves as the chair of the trust. The Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund provides medical, chiropractic, prescription drug, dental, vision, and life insurance benefits to all eligible State of Hawaii, City and County of Honolulu, County of Hawaii, County of Maui and County of Kauai employees and retirees. EUTF covers more than 190,000 lives: 68,000 employees, 47,000 retirees, and 80,000 dependents. Fern also serves a chair of EUTF’s investment committee and is a member of its benefits committee.

Hawaii CC Faculty Hosts Their Regular Meetup

On October 11, 2019, the Faculty at Hawaii Community College hosted a Faculty Meetup with about 35 people attending. Held at a rented beach house overlooking Hilo Bay, the meetup featured “really good food”, a little bit of swimming and apparently was an overall good time.

Hawaii CC holds faculty meetups “at least twice a semester” with a gala Spring dinner at the Hilo Yacht Club in May. The faculty meetups are organized by UHPA Reps and other members.

Ashley Maynard, UHPA president, commented on the event, “Hawaii Community College has clearly set the standard for all other campuses to follow. If the rest of the campuses and colleges can replicate something like this, our faculty would be immeasurably stronger and more unified in the pursuit of creating a better academic workplace for all”.

Sam Giordanengo, UHPA Board Member representing Hawaii Community College and part of the team that organized the meetup, said, “This is a good way for faculty to see each other outside of the college setting. We talk shop, talk family, and just get to know each other as people. Normally on campus we’re either in meetings and too busy doing our jobs to take time out of the day to connect. These Faculty Meetups allow us to just be friends, share food, and have fun together.”

Hawaii CC meetups have been going on for the past 5 years on a regular basis and were started by now-retired (but still working as a lecturer!) Joel Peralto who kicked off the idea for a special celebration at the time. The event was so successful that the faculty decided it shouldn’t be a one-time-only event, and they have been going on ever since.

Get a quote and receive a free emergency kit

Though the current hurricane season is about to end, it’s never too late to get an emergency kit. Our friends at Farmers Insurance Hawaii are offering the below for all UHPA members. The link to your keycode referenced in the offer is available to you only via our member-only Google Drive (view content access instructions). If you’re not a member,  signup is quick and easy via our online form.


Message from Farmers Insurance Hawaii:

From the Farmers Insurance Hawaii ohana to yours, we care about your safety and are providing emergency preparedness kits for hurricane season. Visit Farmers Insurance Hawaii for an auto insurance quote at our Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului, or Lihue offices and receive one free emergency kit. Be sure to include the UHPA keycode (available for members only on this page) – to receive your UHPA member discount.


1) Quote promotion valid through November 29, 2019 or while supplies last.

2) Must mention the promotion at time of quote. One emergency kit per household per completed quote. For existing policyholders, one emergency kit per household per policy will be provided while supplies last.

3) To participate, visit Farmers Hawaii’s Honolulu, Hilo, Kona, Kahului, or Lihue office to request an auto insurance quote. Honolulu: 500 Ala Moana Blvd. Tower 6, 5th Floor between 8:00am-4:30pm Monday-Friday. Hilo: 111 E Puainako St, Hilo, HI 96720 at Prince Kuhio Plaza, between 9am-6pm Monday-Saturday. Kona: Walmart 75-1015 Henry St. Kailua-Kona, HI 96740 between 9:00am-6:00pm Monday-Friday. Kahului: Walmart 101 Pakaula Street, Kahului, HI 96732 between 9:00am-6:00pm Monday-Saturday. Lihue: 3016 Umi Street #1, Lihue, HI 96766 between 8:00am-5:00pm Monday-Friday. Upon quote completion, customer will receive one emergency kit.

4) For Hawaii residents 18 years or older only.

5) Employees of Farmers Insurance Group of Companies are not eligible.

6) Cannot be combined with any other offers.

7) Some restrictions apply.

Unprecedented Actions to Reduce Teaching Equivalencies (TE) at Kapiolani CC

UHPA was notified by Chancellor Pagotto of a significant cut in Teaching Equivalencies (TE) for Spring 2020 due to fiscal problems at Kapiolani CC. These reductions affect a large number of faculty members and is without precedence. TE’s constitute work responsibilities that are part of your compensation and conditions of work. These reductions may impact delivery of instruction and support for students along with diminished employment for some employees. The impact of these measures is not fully known.

UHPA was not consulted before the implementation of TE reductions nor did Chancellor Pagotto request negotiations on changes in compensation and working conditions that are impacted by the action being taken.

UHPA considers this a very serious matter and is preparing to take the necessary steps to ensure that faculty members are protected from harmful employer actions that undermine your job security, compensation and working conditions.

UHPA has requested that the UH System administration intervene immediately to address the fiscal situation and stop the unilateral reduction of TE’s. Further this requires the employer and UHPA to meet and negotiate on these matters. The employer needs to meet its legal obligations.