Unraveling UHM’s Debacle on Specialists

Unraveling UHM’s Debacle On Specialists

Demystifying The Process

Over the past week, there has been a lot of discussion, confusion, and questioning as to the purpose, intent, and meaning as to why the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa (UHM) Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Excellence (OVPAE) sent out an email request to the UHM Administration to document a “guesstimate” on percentages in the work faculty Specialist perform under five distinct categories of: 1) % Student Support including Advising; 2) % Academic Support to Departments, Curriculum; 3) % Research and Research Support; 4) % Classroom Instruction as Instructor on Record; and 5) % Other.  The email gave the perception that the SCR 201 Task Force that UHPA was part of was still operational and that they were the genesis behind this request for information from Specialist faculty.

Since then, there has been a lot of speculation, suspicion, perception, and twitchy feelings about this on-going review process by a non-existent Task Force.  Thus, clarification and a full explanation is needed.

SCR 201 Task Force Has Concluded

There seems to be a speculation and connection that this current UH Faculty Classification Review is being driven and/or directed by the Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 201 that was adopted by the Legislature during the 2021 Legislative Session.  As noted in SCR 201, the task force was requested to submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2022.  On Friday, January 28, 2022, the SCR 201 Task Force submitted its report to the Legislature which can be found here.  Though the Senate Committee on Higher Education (HRE), through its Chair Senator Donna Mercado Kim, initially claimed that they were unaware of the report, and therefore, were supportive of the recommendations of the Tenure PIG, which was the basis for SB 3269.  SB 3269 was supported by former Board of Regent (BOR) Jan Sullivan and former BOR Chair Ben Kudo.  Regardless of whether the Senate agreed or disagreed with the SCR 201 Task Force Findings and recommendations, the report was submitted and the SCR 201 Task Force was dissolved.

Board Of Regents Moved Forward

Based on the SCR 201 Task Force Report, the Board of Regents at the February 17, 2022 meeting passed a motion on what they wanted to see as the next steps.  This includes but was not limited to, establishing a four-member steering committee that includes the Executive Director of UHPA and the President of the University to address the recommendations noted in the SCR 201 report; actively engage in determining whether the effective resolution of each task will necessitate changes to various policies, agreements, or campus guidelines; and agree to co-manage the consultative process for each change as necessary.  The steering committee was requested to meet on a weekly basis to ensure that work progresses in a timely manner.

Steering Committee Established

The BOR Chair Randolph Moore established the Steering Committee and set forth the charge and deliverables to the Steering Committee based on the BORʻs motion in which the BOR set its expectations and desired outcomes.  The Steering Committeeʻs charge and deliverables based on the BOR mandate are:

  1. Develop written processes for addressing the few instances when the productivity of a tenured faculty member has declined and s/he is unable to perform faculty duties satisfactorily, including following a periodic review and professional development plan.
  2. Clearly define “faculty” and develop (a process involving the administration, the faculty, and the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly) 
    • Classification system for the faculty more aligned with its benchmark institutions. 
    • Determine criteria for reclassifying positions currently classified Specialist (S) to a tenurable general faculty position, a non-tenurable faculty position, a non-instructional faculty position, or a non-faculty staff position. 
    • Examine each Specialist (S) position and determine once the position becomes vacant how it should be classified. 
    • Develop a process whereunder an incumbent in a Researcher (R) or Specialist (S) position could apply to have that position reclassified while the incumbent is still in it.
  3. Develop policy relating to job security and periodic evaluation for Specialist (S) positions that upon becoming vacant are reclassified as non-instructional faculty.
  4. Develop guidelines for general faculty “buy-out” of teaching assignments with extramural or other sources of funding in a manner that is consistent with the new work assignment template for faculty.

The Steering Committee (SC) believed that the research, data, and work done by the SCR 201 Task Force would be helpful to review and analyze to ensure that the committee wouldnʻt replicate or perform tasks already performed, as well as, to be used as a foundation for determining what further research and data needed to be obtained before the Steering Committee engaged in their work.  

Therefore, the Steering Committee began by identifying and determining what the different faculty-composed working groups that would be required to be developed to meet the four (4) areas as outlined in the report adopted by the BOR.  It was determined that Charge 2. above would require more than one working group to accomplish the work efficiently and effectively.  

Thereafter, the Steering Committee began reviewing what information, data, metrics, etc. would be or might be needed by any of the considered working groups.  The Steering Committee discussed the information that had been received by both the BORʻs Permitted Interaction Group and the SCR 201 Task Force in determining what information, data, and metrics might be useful and whether further fact gathering was necessary if such material was determined by the Steering Committee to be incomplete.

After further review and analysis, the Steering Committee realized that for items 2. b. and c., as listed above, the data was incomplete.  The SCR 201 Task Force noted at its October 22, 2021 meeting that “Faculty specialists remain a challenging category because of the range of different job descriptions included in the category. During this meeting the TF also discussed what kinds of faculty positions are actually in policy and where they can be hired. And the history of why some of the classifications were created was considered in the context of relevant HLRB decisions. It may be useful to do additional investigation into how specialists are divided by type of work assigned. It was noted that generally there appear to be four categories into which the percentage of workload for specialists fall: classroom, research, student support, and academic support. To acquire data on Specialists, supervisors will have to be surveyed because there is no consistency across this category. There are non-instructional CC faculty as well and so identifying their job descriptions will also be relevant.”  While the UH Community Colleges, UH Hilo, and UH West Oahu performed their due diligence in gathering this information from their respective campus supervisors when the initial request was made by the SCR 201 Task Force last year, UH Manoa unfortunately did not.  

The Steering Committee determined that when such working groups are established such information would be beneficial to these committee members as generalized data, information, and metrics to start their review and evaluation process.  Therefore, Debora Halbert (Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy) under the direction of President David Lassner sent another request to the UHM Campus to provide the information that was requested previously for the SCR 201 Task Force for the Steering Committeeʻs review and information.

Misdirected And Misguided Message From OVPAE

Unfortunately, this is where all the confusion began.  If the process was followed and adhered to pursuant to the Presidentʻs first directive to the UHM administration under the initial SCR 201 Task Force request this debacle and perplexity wouldʻve been avoided and the resulting anxiety and confusion – non-existent.  UHPA can only make its assumption that President Lassnerʻs second request for information to the UHM campus was taken as a message that this needs to be addressed and resolved ASAP since it was the second request by the President.  Unfortunately, it was treated and handled without regard to how the process should be driven and the impact it would have on Specialist faculty at UHM.  Moreover, rather than requiring faculty supervisors to complete the survey as intended, the message sent on Thursday, April 14, 2022, was unclear about the directive that the Steering Committee planned.  Therefore, it was conveyed incorrectly that Specialist faculty rather than their supervisors were required to individually complete the survey within a quick turnaround time being the close of business, Tuesday, April 19, 2022.  Adding to more confusion and anxiety was the message that Researchers, Librarians, and Extension Agents werenʻt being requested to provide such information at this time without further information and context.

While we are not surprised by the recent events that have transpired, we are disappointed since this is not the first time UHPAʻs name and reputation has incorrectly been put forth as the justification and means for managementʻs actions.  While we cannot control, dictate, or direct how information is provided by the UH Administration to the campuses, we do believe that in some instances and cases UHPA is justified in providing the clarification and relevant and pertinent information to our faculty so that they understand the intent and purpose of managementʻs actions.

Clear And Unambiguous Facts

The information that had been requested by the SCR 201 Task Force on the survey of Specialist and Community College Non-Instructional Faculty work assignments has not been used, referenced, or noted in the report to either the Legislature or the BOR.

The SCR 201 Task Force is now dissolved.  No further action by this task force has been taken since it completed its report to the Legislature.

The information the UHM Administration was seeking was originally a request from the SCR 201 Task Force.  However, the information is now being requested by the Steering Committee as general data and information gathering for the sole purpose of providing this information to working groups that the Steering Committee will develop that will be composed of faculty members in the Specialist classification.

Matters dealing with the review of teaching equivalencies, buy-outs, 5-year review, faculty productivity, and faculty classification are all part of this new charge to the Steering Committee who will then formulate various working groups composed with faculty members to begin this process of review and analysis.  

Moving Forward

The recent debacle and confusion has brought awareness that UHPA cannot rely on the communication, information, and management of the Steering Committeeʻs work and UHPAʻs involvement on the Steering Committee.  UHPA recognizes and appreciates the numerous emails, phone calls, and messages we have received from the membership expressing its concerns and confusion over this matter.  UHPA respects and welcomes faculty to address any and all concerns directly with UHPA in that we can be apprised of matters and situations that we are unaware of, and in that we can respond, take action, and address accordingly.  Moreover, we do acknowledge that these matters are dear and close to faculty interests and that we cannot rely on either the BOR or the UH Administration to convey accurate and complete reports on this BOR agenda and directive.  Therefore, UHPA is committed to provide the membership with its own organizational updates on this subject matter as this process moves forward.

UHPA wants to reinforce that our goal, intent, and purpose is to manage and control the process through providing meaningful input through open dialogue and communication in that the collective bargaining rights and processes are followed; that the classification process, review, and evaluations are followed; and to ensure that matters are determined and decided with objectivity, consistency and equity.

In Solidarity And Unity

Over 99% Vote in Favor of Contract Extension

Recognition and Appreciation to all UH Faculty in Bargaining Unit 7

Over the past two days, you had the opportunity to ratify extending the current 2021-2023 UHPA-BOR Agreement an additional two years to June 30, 2025 with the following pay increases:

  • 1% lump-bonus payment retroactive to July 1, 2021
  • 3.72% increase on July 1, 2022
  • 5% increase on July 1, 2023
  • 5% increase on July 1, 2024

The offer from the Employer was approved by the UHPA Board of Directors on April 2, 2022 to be given to the UH Faculty in Bargaining Unit 7 for their consideration and to take a ratification vote.

Results of the Ratification Vote

The ratification vote ended today, Friday, April 8, 2022 at 12:00 PM.  The results of the ratification vote are as follows:

99.1% – YES (1806 in favor)

0.9% – NO (17 opposed)

UHPA greatly appreciates you taking the time to vote.  Needless to say, the past couple of years have been daunting, challenging, and extremely difficult.  However, the UH Faculty in Bargaining Unit 7 displayed tremendous resilience, determination, and dedication by continuing to persevere through these difficult times allowing students to obtain their degrees and increasing student enrollment at the UH Manoa and the UH Hilo campus while nationally the trends show otherwise.  UHPA is proud to represent the UH Faculty.  In Unity We Stand.


Vote Now: Your Ballot Is In Your Inbox

The ratification vote is underway regarding the State’s offer to faculty.  Ballots were sent to the email address we have on file for every member of Bargaining Unit 7.

If You Haven’t Seen Your Ballot, Check The Following:

  1. Your inbox.  Ballots were sent on Wednesday 4/6 with the Subject line “2022 UHPA Contract Ratification Vote” from the address “vote@simplyvoting.com”.
  2. Your other inbox:  if you previously registered your non-edu email with us, the ballot was sent to that email address
  3. Spam folders:  check both your .edu and non .edu email spam folders.  Search for the address “vote@simplyvoting.com” 

Still Can’t Find It?

If all of the above fail, please email Kathy Yamashita and in your email body please confirm that you have performed the 3 steps above and cannot find your ballot.   Kathy will confirm that you are in the bargaining unit and the email address the ballot was sent to.

Details of State’s Offer to Faculty

Offer Highlights

UHPA members have an opportunity to vote on new terms proposed for our current contract.

  • Immediate one-time, lump-sum bonus of 1% of annual base pay, retroactive to June 30, 2021.
  • Increases salaries by 14.35% compounded over the three years, not including the one-time 1% bonus.
  • A reopener for Employer EUTF contributions for FY 2023-2024 and FY 2024-2025.
  • Extends the existing contract from two years to four years, expiring in June 2025 instead of June 2023.
  • This offer was unanimously approved by UHPA’s Board of Directors on 4/2/22

Offer Details

The following offer by the Employer (i.e. Governor, UH President, and Board of Regents) has been presented to Unit 7 Faculty in mid-term bargaining for consideration to extend the current Unit 7 Collective Bargaining Agreement (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2023) from a two (2) year contract to a four (4) year contract (July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2025).  In exchange, the Employer is offering:

1% Payment on July 1, 2021

  • A lump sum payment of 1% for all Unit 7 Faculty who were employed in a BU-7 position as of June 30, 2021 and continued to be employed as of July 1, 2021 based on their June 30, 2021 annual base pay.

3.72% Increase on July 1, 2022

  • A 3.72% pay increase on July 1, 2022 on the base salary for all Unit 7 Faculty across the board under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph B. Salary Adjustments.
  • A 3.72% pay increase on July 1, 2022 to the Minimum Salaries for nine (9) and eleven (11) month Unit 7 employees in Ranks 2, 3, 4 & 5 under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph A. Minimum Salaries.
  • A 3.72% pay increase on July 1, 2022 to the Lecturer Fee Schedule for Start of Fall 2022 Semester in the Rate Per Credit Hour of Instruction or Equivalency for Steps A, B, and C under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph D. Lecturer Fee Schedule. 

5% Increase on July 1, 2023

  • A 5% pay increase on July 1, 2023 on the base salary for all Unit 7 Faculty across the board under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph B. Salary Adjustments.
  • A 5% pay increase on July 1, 2023 to the Minimum Salaries for nine (9) and eleven (11) month Unit 7 employees in Ranks 2, 3, 4 & 5 under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph A. Minimum Salaries.
  • A 5% pay increase on July 1, 2023 to the Lecturer Fee Schedule for Start of Fall 2023 Semester in the Rate Per Credit Hour of Instruction or Equivalency for Steps A, B, and C under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph D. Lecturer Fee Schedule. 

5% Increase on July 1, 2024

  • A 5% pay increase on July 1, 2024 on the base salary for all Unit 7 Faculty across the board under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph B. Salary Adjustments.
  • A 5% pay increase on July 1, 2024 to the Minimum Salaries for nine (9) and eleven (11) month Unit 7 employees in Ranks 2, 3, 4 & 5 under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph A. Minimum Salaries.
  • A 5% pay increase on July 1, 2024 to the Lecturer Fee Schedule for Start of Fall 2024 Semester in the Rate Per Credit Hour of Instruction or Equivalency for Steps A, B, and C under Article XXI, Salaries, Paragraph D. Lecturer Fee Schedule. 

Examples of Impact on Salary

The overall proposed salary increases minus the 1% bonus equals 14.35% compounded over the next three (3) years.  For example:

$100,000.00 annual base salary as of June 30, 2022

$103,720.00 annual base salary as of July 1, 2022 (e.g. $100,000.00 x 1.0372%)

$108,906.00 annual base salary as of July 1, 2023 (e.g. $103,720.00 x 1.05%)

$114,351.30 annual base salary as of July 1, 2024 (e.g. $108,906.00 x 1.05%)

The Duration under Article XXX, Duration of the Unit 7 Agreement, will be extended to June 30, 2025.  In addition, the Employer is proposing a reopener over Employer contributions to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF) under Article XXII since the plan rates for FY 2023-2024 and FY 2024-2025 have not been established by the EUTF Board of Trustees.

The Mid-Term vs. Successor Bargaining Difference 

Rejecting this offer in mid-term bargaining will result in the existing 2021-2023 Unit 7 contract (which has no pay raises) to remain in effect until June 30, 2023.  This differs from the normal successor bargaining process wherein a rejection of an offer means there is no contract in effect after the expiration date and faculty would have the right to strike. 

The Ratification is Only For This Offer

This ratification is solely to consider the Employer’s offer to extend the current Unit 7 Agreement for another two years to June 30, 2025 in exchange for: 

1) a 1% lump sum payment for FY 2021; 

2) salary increases over FYs 2022-2025 totalling 14.35% compounded; and 

3) a reopener for Employer EUTF contributions for FY 2023-2024 and FY 2024-2025.  

Again, this is not a vote over a successor contract.

What if the Faculty Rejects This Offer?

If the Employer’s proposal to extend the contract to June 30, 2025 with the financial offers noted above is rejected, there are no further negotiations and/or bargaining obligations on the Employer and negotiations must wait until the next round of successor bargaining in 2023 – with no retroactive pay increase for FYs 2021-2023 and no guarantee on increasing existing wages beyond June 30, 2023.

Faculty Ratification Vote Coming This Week On State Financial Offer

Coming To Your Inbox This Week

On Saturday April 2, 2022, UHPA’s Board of Directors approved to send to the Faculty a financial offer from the State for review and consideration. The next step is a Faculty ratification vote. More information will be coming Tuesday to your inbox and the vote will take place later this week.  

Watch for the State’s Financial Offer for Faculty

In March 2020, the pandemic immediately changed our lives and our State’s economy was sent into an unprecedented downward spiral. So much so that in April and May 2020, the leaders of the public sector unions were asked to meet with the Governor and his representatives to discuss the possible unilateral implementation of 20% pay cuts for all public sector employees, including faculty, in order to deal with the economic downturn and looming budgetary crisis.

2020: A Challenging Year

You may recall that 2020 was a tumultuous year for all public sector employees, characterized by the ambiguity of our leaders sending mixed messages about our on again-off again pay cuts, furloughs, layoffs/retrenchment, etc. During this time, there was no formal negotiation or consultation with UHPA to collaboratively find solutions to deal with the State’s budgetary deficits. UHPA pointed out that on top of unilateral implementation of furloughs violating our existing faculty contract and challenging its constitutionality, cutting salaries and wages of public sector employees will only hurt the State’s economic recovery.

The pandemic dragged on and in late 2020, after nine months of uncertainty, the State presented a formal offer in successor bargaining to be effective July 1, 2021. The State’s initial proposal was for Unit 7 Faculty to take a 9.3% pay cut over the next four years to June 30, 2025. The UHPA Negotiations Committee challenged and countered the Employer’s position and worked tirelessly to protect and ensure the financial stability for its members and reluctantly agreed to a two year contract with no pay increases through June 30, 2023. At the time, it was a reasonable concession to avoid and prevent the Employer from implementing more drastic actions such as furloughs or layoffs/retrenchment that would have impacted the quality of instruction and the livelihoods of all Faculty members. 

A New Time, A New Financial Offer

Fast forward to today: the State coffers are now flush with cash due to the infusion of Federal stimulus funds and the State’s economy making an incredible turnaround sooner than expected. As a result, UHPA was approached by the State’s Chief Negotiator, Ryker Wada, with the full support of Governor Ige, to see if UHPA was open to enter into off-the-record mid-term bargaining to extend the current Unit 7 Agreement along with a proposed financial offer from the State. After several months of bargaining, the State proposed a final financial package similar to what was agreed to with the other bargaining units who had wage reopeners in their agreement. (Other unions, which negotiated a reopener for the second year of their contracts, are receiving some much needed financial offers from the State.)

UHPA Board Supports Proposal

Late last week, the UHPA Negotiating Committee thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the State’s financial offer to extend the duration of the Unit 7 Agreement. They voted in support of the State’s financial offer and recommended that it be sent to the UHPA Board of Directors for the Board’s review and consideration. On Saturday, April 2nd the UHPA Board of Directors unanimously agreed to accept the State’s financial offer and to submit the proposal to the Faculty for consideration with a recommendation to approve.

Ratification Voting Period Begins This Wednesday

Be on the lookout, Tuesday, April 5th, for the details on the financial offer to extend the current Unit 7 Agreement from June 30, 2023 to June 30, 2025. Ratification of the financial offer will commence at 12:00 p.m. noon on Wednesday, April 6th, and shall conclude at 12:00 p.m. noon Friday, April 8th. UHPA plans to release the results of the ratification later that afternoon.