A Solid Foundation for Collective Bargaining
A Primer on Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 89

In 1970, the Hawai‘i State Legislature passed Act 171 to allow public employees to form unions and gain exclusive representation rights. This became known as Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Chapter 89, which continues to guide collective bargaining efforts in our state today.

Hawai‘i is fortunate to have these laws to uphold collective bargaining rights for all employees in 13 bargaining units.  Bargaining unit 7, which is one of the units, covers University of Hawai‘i faculty, including those in community colleges.

One Contract, Multiple Stakeholders

Chapter 89 requires different stakeholders to vote on decisions affecting UH faculty. The Governor has three votes, the UH Board of Regents is given two votes, and the UH President, who represents the administration, has one vote. These decisions are based on a simple majority.

Collective bargaining spells out the mutual obligations of the public employer – the Governor of the State of Hawai‘i and the UH Board of Regents — and the exclusive representative (UHPA). This applies to negotiations as well as executed written agreements. Agreements cover issues relating to wages, hours, amount of contributions by the State for healthcare, and other terms and conditions.

Legislative Approval: Key to Contract Execution

It is important to note that reaching an agreement is not the final step in the process. As a state entity, the University of Hawai‘i’s budget must be reviewed and approved by the Hawai‘i State Legislature. Once an agreement is reached, the state legislators must look at ways to fund the contract. This can be a challenging proposition for legislators, especially during times when the state’s overall budget is constrained.

UH and UHPA: Separate, Distinct Funding Needs

Legislators must make the contract a priority while also balancing the other needs of the state. This includes other funding requests from the University of Hawai‘i that include administration salaries and capital improvements. These are separate from the faculty contract; and legislators may look at all of these UH requests and conclude the UH’s total requested allocation may be disproportionate to other funding requests.

Faculty Must Remain Vigilant

This is why UHPA carefully monitors bills and legislation during the sessions. It’s also important for UH faculty to make their collective voice heard loud and clear. Click here to see why the faculty contract must remain a priority during the legislative session.