Governor Ige warns of potential furloughs and pay cuts

Any salary reductions require bargaining

Yesterday afternoon, Governor David Ige met with the leaders of Hawaii’s six public worker unions, including the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly.

Because of the pandemic, Governor Ige said the state expects to be billions of dollars in deficit and that additional steps will be necessary to balance the budget.

We want to be absolutely clear and transparent. Governor Ige has not put forward any formal proposal to UHPA nor any of the other unions to initiate mid-term bargaining on these additional steps and it is not clear what the additional steps would entail. However, in addition to imposing further cuts to state departments, Governor Ige has put forward the possibility of furloughs twice a month to achieve a 9.23% salary cut for all state employees over a four-year period. Governor Ige wants those furloughs and cuts to take effect Dec. 1 of this year and use the monies saved to offset the budgetary shortfall on the backs of public employees.

Each bargaining unit has a set of unique circumstances and needs that would require bargaining and mutual consent between the parties to implement. Unilateral implementation would violate our current Unit 7 collective bargaining agreement, as well as our collective bargaining law, so terms and conditions for any reductions in pay or impact on working conditions for our bargaining unit members for this fiscal year would require negotiations with UHPA. 

In the meantime, UHPA will stand strong and in solidarity with the other public-sector unions.

UHPA Requests Cease and Desist to Governor and UH

Dear Governor Ige, President Lassner, and Board of Regents:

As the public employers defined in Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS), §89-6(d)(4), for the purposes of negotiating a collective bargaining agreement for Unit 7 Faculty Members of the University of Hawaii (UH), the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) submits this written letter in response to the Tuesday, August 18, 2020, Civil Beat Article entitled “Ige Plans Furloughs For Public Workers In November.”   

Over the past several months, numerous public statements, news articles, resolutions, and internal UH communications have been announced and published about unilaterally imposing furloughs, wage cuts, and job reductions for State employees, impacting Unit 7 Faculty Members.  As all of you are aware, we have an active and mutually agreed upon Unit 7 collective bargaining agreement for the duration of July 1, 2017 through and including June 30, 2021.  While we acknowledge that Article XVI, Retrenchment, has been negotiated and agreed upon to address fiscal exigency for the UH, furloughs, wage cuts, and job reductions are all mandatory subjects of bargaining under HRS, §89-9(a), and cannot be unilaterally imposed unless it is mutually agreed to by the parties.  To date, the public employers have not properly notified the UHPA of any request to engage in mid-term bargaining under HRS, §89-9(b), in an attempt to negotiate and obtain mutual agreement over these additional concepts.  While the Tuesday, August 18, 2020, Civil Beat Article, does not identify Unit 7 Faculty Members to be subject to this unilateral imposition of furloughs, it also doesn’t exclude them from the impact. 

What I do want to make crystal clear is that UHPA has never been approached by any of the public employers with specific mid-term proposals to bargaining over furloughs, wage cuts, and reductions during the entire term of our existing contract. In addition, UHPA has refrained from publicly responding to these statements, articles, and UH communications since we believe it is not aligned with the intent and purpose or HRS, §89-1, as well as, Regents Policy RP 9.203, Collective Bargaining.  Nevertheless, the constant and relentless messaging of unilateral impositions of mandatory bargainable subjects is causing tremendous fear, anxiety, and apprehension for UHPA Unit 7 Faculty Members which is not helpful during these unprecedented times.  While UHPA does recognize the State’s dire economic situation in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, this pattern of negotiating in the media is neither “respectful” nor “appropriate.”  We acknowledge that there will unfortunately be significant negative impacts and hard decisions to be made, the statutory defined process outlined in HRS, Chapter 89, is what all parties are required to follow.  

Therefore, I respectfully request that all public employers cease and desist from any further public statements, news articles, and internal UH communications speaking on this matter unless it is clearly stated and defined that it does not apply to Unit 7 Faculty Members.  If it is the public employer’s intent to propose such measures, we respectfully request that the public employer follow the statutory process under HRS, Chapter 89, and uphold and comply with its own Regents Policy RP 9.203, Collective Bargaining.

Thank you for your time and attention to this sensitive matter.

Sincerely,

Christian L. Fern

Executive Director

The current status of your 1.2% pay increase

As a part of the negotiated and agreed to four (4) year Unit 7 collective bargaining agreement for the duration July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2021, UHPA had a reopener to negotiate an additional pay increase effective January 2, 2020 and January 1, 2021, as outlined in Article XXX, Duration of the 2017-2021 Unit 7 UHPA-BOR Agreement, along with the negotiated pay increases of 2% for July 1, 2019 and July 1, 2020.  The 1.2% was a floor, with the potential of a higher increase based upon the negotiated average step increases other Bargaining Units obtained.

Your 2% raise is going into effect

For 11 month faculty members, the 2% pay increase was incorporated into your July 20, 2020 paychecks.  For 9 month faculty, the 2% pay increase will be incorporated into your August 20, 2020 paychecks.  

Your 1.2% raise has been agreed to

In May, 2020, UHPA reached an agreement with the UH and the State to formally adopt and incorporate the 1.2% pay increase into Article XXI, Salaries of the 2017-2021 Unit 7 UHPA-BOR Agreement.  SB 785 Relating to Collective Bargaining, which was funded  by the Legislature and enrolled to the Governor on June 26, 2020, incorporated the retroactive pay increase for faculty members of 1.2% effective January 2, 2020, as well as the 1.2% increase effective January 1, 2021.

The bill is currently sitting on the Governorʻs desk.

He has until August 31, 2020 to issue his intent to veto the bill.  If he does not submit the intent to veto, the bill will automatically become law on September 15, 2020 with or without his signature.  If he does veto the bill, the Legislature could return in a special session and override the Governor’s veto.  

We’re waiting for his signature now

We have no knowledge of whether the Governor intends to veto SB 785 which funds the 1.2% pay increase that was agreed to back in 2017 and which the Governor, the UH President, and the BOR fully supported and agreed to.  We believe that the Governor will sign the bill and then allocate to the UH the appropriate funds to pay for this 1.2% pay increase retroactive to January 2, 2020 and another 1.2% increase on January 1, 2021.  However, it’s in the Governor’s hands now and he has until August 31, 2020 to show his colors.  Once funding is allocated to UH, we plan to work with the UH to get an estimated time frame upon when faculty members could expect to receive the 1.2% retroactive pay increase back to January 2, 2020.  Conversely, if the Governor unexpectedly vetoes SB 785, UHPA will immediately notify faculty members of what the next steps will be to address the Governor’s surprised actions.

Your voice made the difference at Thurday’s BOR meeting

Our Collaborative Effort Made a Difference: BOR Votes to Defer Premature Resolution

At yesterday’s July 16th  Board of Regents meeting, UHPA and UH faculty successfully sent a strong message to Regent Chair Benjamin Kudo that struck a chord with the Regents.  

Through the collaborative efforts of UHPA, HGEA, Academic Labor United, and UH faculty and students, we made Chair Kudo stop in his tracks. We collectively presented a strong, unified voice to defend the University and forestall a requirement by the UH Board of Regents for the UH administration to develop a short-term plan of action to address the financial impact of COVID-19 by next month — without the benefit of input from UHPA and the faculty.

A Thousand Individuals, One Strong Voice

Nearly a thousand individuals submitted testimony in opposition to UH Board of Regents Chair Benjamin Kudo’s ill-conceived resolution and proposed letter to Gov. David Ige. Fortunately, the other Board of Regents listened to the concerns raised by faculty and others, and realized the resolution was premature and conceived in a vacuum. 

Vote Defers Resolution; Withdraws Letter to the Governor

The result of mobilizing quickly paid off. The Board of Regents unanimously voted to defer Resolution 20-03 and to withdraw Chair Kudo’s letter to the Governor, which sought to defer the negotiated pay raises of faculty and other public-sector union members  It was an important achievement for all of us. 

Collective Bargaining 101

The live-streamed meeting exposed Chair Kudo’s deficient understanding of collective bargaining and the role of the Board of Regents as an employer in the legal process of reaching an agreement. 

All of the written and oral testimonials enlightened the Regents about their legal obligation to comply with collective bargaining agreements. They publicly acknowledged faculty for stepping forward to raise their concerns and recognized the importance of faculty input on the resolution. UHPA and faculty will now have the opportunity to work with the Board of Regents to work on a revised resolution for consideration next month.

Continuing the Momentum

We are off to a good start, but this is by no means the end of this battle. It has become painfully clearer what we are up against. We must contend with a group that does not play by the rules because they do not know the rules. We must remain vigilant and cannot let our guard down.

Mahalo again for everyone’s support, especially to Randy Perreira, Executive Director of HGEA and his members throughout the UH system, Academic Labor United, and the many UH students and community members for coming together and providing a unified voice to support and defend our University.  We appreciate everyone’s kōkua!

Whatever Happened to Respect and Acting in Good Faith?

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) takes umbrage at Board of Regents Chair Ben Kudo’s resolution that would authorize the UH administration “to utilize whatever available means it has to reduce the operating costs and expenses of the University, including but not limited to, reduction-in-force, furloughs, retrenchment, freeze or reduction in remuneration, etc.” to address the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Thursday, July 16, Board of Regents are expected to vote to adopt the resolution and approve an accompanying letter urging Gov. David Ige to negotiate with UHPA to defer the scheduled pay increases and adjustments in our contract — which have already been approved and budgeted — until the State is in a better economic condition. Click here to see board resolution 20-03 and proposed letter to the Governor.

Many faculty members have understandably expressed their outrage at this notion to UHPA, and we will be submitting strongly-worded testimony that reflects our position. I urge you to join me in submitting written testimony and attend the meeting to have a strong, collective voice.

Chair Kudo: Where Have You  Been?

Throughout the pandemic, UHPA and UH administration have worked tirelessly together to develop solutions to carry on the mission of the University of Hawai‘i at all 10 campuses statewide. We successfully transitioned to online learning and helped ensure hundreds were able to graduate. Chair Kudo and the Board of Regents were noticeably absent in contributing solutions.

There have been ample opportunities for Chair Kudo to express his concerns or raise any reservations about the salary increases or suggest a deferral.

Ignoring Legislative Processes

Chair Kudo circumvents the legislative process and ignores the fact that Senate Bill 785 passed. At no time during this year’s legislative session did Chair Kudo or any of the other members of the Board of Regents testify at the Legislature against the funding of these negotiated pay raises. He also fails to acknowledge that the Legislature appropriated funds for the salary increases while still managing to balance the budget. 

Going Against the Governor’s Intentions

His resolution also second-guesses the Governor, who clearly supported Senate Bill 785. The resolution is a humiliating slap in the face of the Governor. It is important to underscore that the Governor supported the funding of UHPA’s contract pay raises inclusive of the 1.2% increase on January 2, 2020 and the 2% increase on July 1, 2020 during the current pandemic.

Demanding a Plan is Premature

Despite all of these opportunities, he remained silent — until now. He is clearly out of touch with the Governor, legislature, and UH administration. His resolution comes out of the blue, bypassing the public decision-making process. His edict suddenly proclaims there is an “emergency” that demands a short- and long-term plan by next month. With the uncertainties created by the pandemic, creating a long-term plan now is a premature, irresponsible, and an unrealistic request.

Virtual Board of Regents Meeting

It’s not too late to intervene and stop the resolution from moving forward. The Board of Regents meeting will be held this Thursday, July 16, at 9 am via Zoom. You can access the livestream at www.hawaii.edu/bor.

Be Heard: Submit Your Testimony

Please submit your written testimony prior to 11:59pm Tuesday July 14 on the Board of Regent’s website through the testimony link provided on the Meeting Agendas, Minutes and Materials page. The July 16, Agenda says the following regarding public comment:

All written testimony on agenda items received after posting of this agenda and up to 24 hours in advance of the meeting will be distributed to the board. Late testimony on agenda items will be distributed to the board within 24 hours of receipt. Written testimony may be submitted via the board’s website through the testimony link provided on the Meeting Agendas, Minutes and Materials page. Testimony may also be submitted via email at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu, U.S.mail, or facsimile at (808) 956-5156. All written testimony submitted are public documents. Therefore, any testimony that is submitted for use in the public meeting process is public information and will be posted on the board’s website. 

Those wishing to provide oral testimony for the virtual meeting may register here. Given constraints with the online format of our meetings, individuals wishing to orally testify must register no later than 8:00 a.m. on the day of the meeting in order to be accommodated. It is highly recommended that written testimony be submitted in addition to registering to provide oral testimony. Oral testimony will be limited to three (3) minutes per testifier

Mahalo for your ongoing support. Let’s make our collective voice count.

Me ke aloha, 

Christian L. Fern

Executive Director

Agreement reached over Covid-19 impacts on promotion, tenure and renewal.

Agreement reached with President and Governor over Covid-19 impacts on promotion, tenure and contract renewal 

Last week the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with President David Lassner and Governor David Ige on addressing the possible negative consequences and impacts the unanticipated switch to on-line instruction due to COVID-19 may have on tenure, promotion, and contract renewal.  

Agreement result of combined efforts

These concerns were raised by UHPA Faculty Members who are serving on Temporary Work Group which was a combined effort of the UHPA and UH Administrators to discuss health and safety issues, as well as making sure Faculty Members received the required support, services, resources, etc. to help with the transition to on-line instruction and other conditions as they have arised.  The Faculty Members recognized how adverse and negative the Spring 2020 semester could have in the areas of tenure, promotion, and contract renewal processes which are based on face-to-face evaluations, peer evaluations, student evaluations, application deadlines, research endeavors, and other related measures.  

Exemplary decision making via the collective bargaining process

“The Temporary Work Group epitomizes the intent of Hawaii’s collective bargaining law, by providing for joint decision-making; having employees granted a right to share in the decision-making process; and having a venue to exchange ideas and information with administrators to help the government become more effective and responsive in these unprecedented times.”  Christian Fern, UHPA Executive Director

Highlights of the MOU

  1. Faculty Members employed during the Spring 2020 semester may elect to extend their probationary period for an additional year, but not to exceed eight (8) years;
  2. Faculty Members expected to undergo contract renewal in the Fall 2020 semester may elect to extend their contact and postpone their contract renewal by one year; and
  3. Faculty Members or Lecturers holding multi-year limited term contracts in Spring 2020 who are up for contract renewal and who are not being paid via extramural funds will be extended for one (1) additional year.

The temporary work group consists of Faculty Members and UH Administrators and has continued to meet on a weekly basis since Spring Break.  

 

Tenure and Promotions: UHPA’s Supporting Role

Congratulations to all University of Hawai‘i faculty who have recently been tenured or have been promoted!

UHPA recognizes your hard work and diligence. Your commitment to academic excellence is admirable and you deserve to celebrate this important milestone in your professional career.

It’s Based on Your Contract

The success of these faculty is based on the foundation established by UHPA in the UHPA-BOR Agreement. It’s important to point out that this is not a state statute. Unlike many other states, tenure is only possible because of the UHPA-BOR Agreement, not statute. The UHPA Negotiating Team makes sure that policies and procedures for tenure, promotion and contract renewal evaluations and recommendations are always included in the faculty contracts. View an entire section of the contract dedicated to this subject.

Did You Know…

Here are some other safeguards in the faculty contract to ensure you receive a fair assessment when you are being considered for tenure or a promotion.

  • The majority of bargaining unit faculty members must approve the policies and procedures of each respective department or division within the University of Hawai`i. UHPA must also approve any amendments.
  •  The written procedures for a department or division must include a secret ballot for final votes on faculty members being considered for tenure or contract renewal, and the faculty member who is voting must be a tenured Bargaining Unit 07 member.

Share This with Your Colleagues

Others in your department or division may not be aware of the role UHPA plays in establishing the framework for tenure and promotion. Please share this with information with them, and if they are interested in becoming a UHPA member to support themselves and fellow faculty, please direct them to this instant online membership form.

View the list of faculty who have been tenured or promoted.

UHPA Prevails in Obtaining Revised Contract Renewal Letters for Probationary Faculty

UHPA filed a class grievance regarding the failure to properly inform probationary faculty of the contract renewal recommendations by the DPC and Department/Division chair by December 20, 2018 as provided by the collective bargaining agreement. This information can be critical to any faculty member who may be subject to non-renewal or has performance deficits that may raise concerns with a Dean or Vice Chancellor. The December date enables a probationary faculty member to determine what options may guide their future employment and ability to remain at the University of Hawaii.

Such defects in the process will be corrected for the 2019-2020 academic year. As a remedy
Faculty members who were improperly denied a contract renewal will be awarded a contract renewal. Faculty members who were renewed and received improper letters will be sent corrected letters which affirm their contract renewals.

New Contract to be signed on August 3, 2017

The  new contract between UHPA, the University of Hawaii, and the Governor will be signed on August 3. This will formalize the tentative agreements on all language and EUTF contributions for faculty members. The salary increases now must be requested by the Governor to the Legislature for approval.

There are two possible avenues for the funding to be approved:

Special session

If there is a special legislative session convened it is possible for the legislature to approve the salary increases so that the funds would be immediately appropriated. Both the Senate and House leadership must agree to advance an appropriations bill for BU7.

2018 Legislature

Should a special session not be held or no action on salary appropriations is taken then the Governor’s budget to the 2018 Legislature must request funding for BU7. It then goes through the legislative process for approval. This could result in receipt of retroactive pay increases at some point during 2018.

Contract language is already in effect

In the meantime as of July 1, 2017 all contract language and the employers’ EUTF contribution is in full effect. You can review the PDFs which make up the tentative agreement and once the contract is signed we will update our website.

As always, please contact UHPA for assistance as there are many language changes that may affect your situation.

Approved! The Contract is Ratified by 95.7% of BU07 Voting Members

What now?

  • All language within the newly-ratified collective bargaining agreement will be in effect as of July 1, 2017.
    • The current contract remains in effect until June 30, 2017, 11:59 pm.
  • UHPA was able to ensure that increased employer contributions for EUTF will be funded as of July 1, 2017.

When can we expect to get the raise(s) in the agreement?

Since the Legislature is not in session there are two possible routes to funding:

  • A special Legislative session is called and the Legislature agrees to place funding of the contract on its agenda. It then votes to fund the contract.
  • If there is no funding through a special Legislative session, then in December 2017 the costs for the contract are placed in the Governor’s Budget proposal to the Legislature.
  • If the Legislature approves the funding, salary increases will be paid retroactively.

What’s next?

  • UHPA is in regular contact with legislators regarding a potential special session.
  • Regardless of what happens legislatively, we are moving forward to implement all new language provisions (other than salary adjustments) in the collective bargaining agreement.
  • The new contract will be posted online after it is formally signed.