HomeStreet Bank provides resources for members struggling financially

Our partners at Homestreet just sent us an email the other day that we hope has utility for our members that need help during these trying times:

Seeing that Hawaii is experiencing high unemployment due to Covid-19, we thought you may like to have some resources available in the event you have members, or their family members, in need of financial help.

These services are offered at no cost to your members, they extend to family members and are offered by phone or on-line so they are easily and safely accessible.

As part of the Inside Edge Financial Wellness Program, there are participating partners and resources available to help members and their family members who may be dealing with debt issues

Not a member yet? Join now via this instant membership online form.

Are you already a member but can’t access the content? Click here to troubleshoot or just call our office.

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.  

 

Farmers Insurance Hawaii reducing auto premiums in May

The below message was delivered to UHPA from Farmers Insurance Hawaii – we are publishing it with little to no editing as a courtesy to our members.

At Farmers Insurance Hawaii, we’ve been helping our Hawaii customers protect and prepare for the unexpected for 65 years. And during this challenging time, we continue our commitment to serve all our customers with aloha. 

In an effort to provide additional financial relief to our customers, Farmers Hawaii is providing a 15% reduction in May auto premiums. Customers will receive this monthly premium credit automatically and will not need to take any action. This is an expansion of our previously announced Farmers® Cares initiatives of a 25% premium reduction in April, offering additional flexible payment plans and pausing cancellations until May 22nd. 

If customers need additional assistance, please call the Farmers Hawaii Customer Care Team at 1-808-672-9569 during our operating hours (Monday – Friday 7AM-6PM HST & Saturday 7AM-2PM HST).

From everyone at Farmers Hawaii, we want to say mahalo for your business. 
We thank you for being a valued customer, and we are proud to serve you. Please stay safe and healthy!

As a reminder, Farmers Hawaii also provides the below online tools available for customers to help manage their auto insurance policy.

File Claims remotely – If you need to file a claim, you can do so online through www.farmershawaii.com or by calling 1-808-544-3999. 
24×7 online self-service for managing your accountwww.farmershawaii.com and our Mobile App equip you to handle many of your needs remotely. Should you need to access your ID card, review your policy documents, pay a bill or make policy changes you can do so using these self-service tools.
Other payment options:Over the phone:  1-888-437-3870  Mail in a payment via USPSVisit a MoneyGram counter at all Longs and WalMart locations in the state of Hawaii. There is a $1.99 fee for each transaction, and you must bring a valid I.D. and your policy number

Coronavirus-related assistance on mortgage or rent

Message from our benefits partner at HomeStreet Bank that may be of interest to those encountering challenges with rent or mortgage payments:

If you’re among those financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, you might be concerned about how to pay your mortgage or rent. As a result of the CARES Act, Federal and state governments have announced plans to help struggling homeowners during this time.

Major mortgage relief options during the coronavirus pandemic:

Mortgage forbearance

Forbearance is when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to pause or reduce your mortgage payments for a limited period of time.  Forbearance doesn’t erase what you owe – you’ll have to repay any missed or reduced payments in the future – but it can protect your credit if you miss part or all of your payments during this period.

  • If you can’t pay your mortgage, or can only pay a portion, contact your mortgage servicer immediately
    • It may take a while to get your loan servicer on the phone due to the extremely high call volume they are receiving.
    • Have your account number handy.
    • You may need to explain why you’re unable to make your payment and provide details about your income, assets, and expenses
  • Once you’re able to secure forbearance or another mortgage relief option, ask your servicer to provide written documentation that confirms the details of the agreement.

NOTE:  If your mortgage is serviced by HomeStreet Bank and you have been impacted by COVID-19 and would like to request a payment forbearance or deferral, you may email loanservice@homestreet.com.  Please provide your full name, loan number, and a good contact phone number and they will reach out to you within 48 hours. You may also call 1-844-544-9071 to reach a dedicated Loan Counselor. Please be aware call volumes are high and hold times are longer than normal. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.   

Protections for renters

The CARES Act provides for a suspension or moratorium on evictions if your landlord has a federally backed mortgage or multi-family mortgage, and you cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent for 120 days beginning on March 27, 2020.  If the property you rent isn’t covered by the CARES Act, many states have suspended all evictions and foreclosures due to the pandemic.

Editor’s note:

This article was provided by HomeStreet Bank as a courtesy to UHPA members and has been published here with minimal, if any, editing- please contact them directly if you have any questions or comments.

UH Key to Hawaii’s economic recovery

Editor’s note: the below opinion piece by UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern appeared in the April 26, 2020 Honolulu Star Advertiser

Hawaii is caught between a rock and hard place. Our state constitution requires us to have a balanced budget, with a plan that shows anticipated revenue to cover projected expenditures. Although we’ve had budget deficits in the past, as a state we have generally been good about not spending more than what we generate.

Aggressive strategies worldwide to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 have been necessary, but it has come at a cost. State government officials project an estimated $1.5 billion drop in state tax revenue. It’s painfully clear difficult decisions must be made.

Although the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges, this is not our first encounter with an economic downturn in our state. We can learn from our experiences from the Great Recession that started in 2009. Good decisions helped to position us for better recovery, but bad decisions continue to haunt us and we are still paying for those.

Now is the time to make prudent, collaborative decisions to accelerate our economic recovery and plan the future we want for Hawai‘i.

Yet, Gov. David Ige unilaterally proposed a 20% pay cut for public employees. To many in the public sector, the pay cuts seemed to be a knee-jerk reaction that lacked careful thought and input. To make this more palatable, he later offered to cut his own pay and that of his cabinet team members, and then back-pedaled by offering to “look at all options” to balance the budget.

Those words offered a glimmer of hope that he is not focused only on cutting public employees’ pay. 

 During the Great Recession, we saw a significant decline in visitors to Hawaii and reduced spending by those visitors. We also saw a substantial loss of jobs in tourism, transportation, construction, retail and service industries, with a significant rise in unemployment rates. We also saw wages decline.

In the midst of those dismal trends, there was a bright spot. We saw enrollment in the University of Hawai‘i increase by nearly 20% at the four-year campuses and nearly 30% at the community colleges. 

Counterintuitively, state general funds to support the UH dropped by about 30% per student during that time. The budget cuts forced the university to raise tuition rates, placing a burden on families already struggling to send their kids to college.  We should not make the same mistake this time around and instead invest in Hawaii’s people appropriately. The University system must be ready and supported to offer relevant, quality training to its residents to restart the economy. A hiring freeze or staff reductions would only increase class sizes or cut entire classes.

Universities generally have countercyclical experiences during downturns in contrast to other sectors of the economy. Enrollment soars during downturns because while many are looking for a job, they return to the UH to learn new skills to become more job-ready and attractive candidates to employers. Faculty played a key role in preparing the workforce for the state’s recovery efforts in 2009, and need to continue to be on the frontlines to support our local economy. If Hawai‘i is to reduce its dependency on tourism, education through the UH is key to creating new opportunities for economic diversification and resilience. 

Academic research led by UH faculty is another economic engine for the state that is often overlooked. The expertise and reputation of the faculty are able to attract millions of dollars in funding for research, which also creates jobs for graduate students and support staff. 

When we receive the green light to venture out of our homes again, we know the world will be different from when we left it just about a month ago. We’ll need to be ready to hit the ground running. We cannot afford to make hasty decisions that create more harm than good, now and for our future.

UHPA Members stepping up to the challenge – published

When the COVID-19 outbreak began, we asked you to nominate UHPA Members that were stepping up to the challenges.  We’ve published those on our COVID-19 status page and invite everyone to review those and also submit more nominations. We’ll be publishing them on a regular basis.

 

 

 

Volunteer to help process unemployment claims

There has been an overwhelming amount of unemployment applications filed and despite the fact that the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has added an additional 100 people to process them, they need volunteers to reduce the backlog so that families depending on unemployment compensation can receive those badly needed checks as soon as possible. 

We are working collaboratively with HGEA and HSTA, along with Senator Brian Schatz, leadership of the State House of Representatives — Speaker Scott Saiki, Finance Chair Sylvia Luke, and Labor Chair Aaron Johanson — to find a solution to this problem.

We are helping to do our part. Please go to HawaiiWorks.org and fill out a very simple form to indicate your interest in volunteering.  Details are on the website and you will be contacted for further instructions. 

With the help of hundreds of volunteers we believe that claims can be processed in a few weeks which otherwise would take months to process. We are doing this on our own to step up and help our community.

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused unprecedented challenges for us all and sometimes it’s during those most difficult times there can be great comfort in knowing your volunteer efforts are helping other families in Hawaii. 

If you have time available to volunteer, we urge you to go to HawaiiWorks.org and fill out the volunteer form. 


Who can volunteer?

Current State workers.  No Oahu State worker volunteer will be turned away.

What?

To help process unemployment claims.

When?

Starting Wednesday, April 22.

How?

Please be sure that any volunteer work does not interfere with your normal faculty responsibilities.  

Why?

To help our community.

Where?

Hawaii Convention Center. 

Please do not show up until your scheduled is confirmed.

UHPA Responds to Governor’s 20% Pay Cut Announcement

Aloha Bargaining Unit 7 Faculty:

Yesterday, Governor David Ige announced a unilateral decision to impose a 20% pay cut for State employees, effective May 1, 2020. (First responders will receive a 10% pay cut.)

Many UHPA members have expressed their outrage and confusion. We want to reassure you that the Governor has no legal authority, right, or privilege to unilaterally negate or disregard our current Unit 7 contract. While he and other State officials may attempt to impose this pay cut as part of his emergency proclamation, we want to make it clear that imposing a 20% pay cut on May 1, 2020 or any future date is not allowable.

As part of our existing contract, changes to existing wages, hours, and working conditions of Unit 7 faculty members require the Governor to negotiate in good faith and obtain mutual consent. To date, this has not occurred or even begun.

While the Governor may have attempted to soften the blowback to him by convening a face-to-face meeting between his cabinet staff and Hawaii’s public sector labor union leaders, his proposal did not come with any specifics on how this will be accomplished, who will be affected, or how long this will be in effect. Even UH President David Lassner and the UH Board of Regents were not included in the Governor’s proposed “solution.” It was irresponsible to make such an announcement without details and, as expected, this fueled a lot of anxiety and generated a lot of questions since his cabinet staff did not have concrete answers.

UHPA along with its 3,500+ members recognize these are unprecedented and difficult times for all. Taking the next crucial steps in dealing with this situation and restoring Hawaii’s economy will take careful thought and prudent decisions that are based on projections supported by facts, data and evidence. Knee-jerk, reactionary measures based on faulty assumptions, innuendoes, and political aspirations do not demonstrate leadership during a time when true leadership is needed.

We hope that our Governor and our leaders will rethink their strategy and approach and begin to engage in meaningful dialogue and discussions on how to deal with the financial exigency the COVID-19 virus has created for our State.

Christian L. Fern
UHPA Executive Director

Handy list of shortcut links to COVID-19 State Resources

Governor David Ige’s – Third Supplemental Proclamation
DLIR – How to Apply for Unemployment Insurance
DOH – How to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19
DOH – Up-to-date COVID-19 Hawaii Statistics
DOT – Coronavirus Info and Resources
DOA – Inter-island Travel Declaration Form
DCCA – Landlord-Tenant Code
Hawaii State Senate YouTube Channel
To participate in the 2020 U.S. Census
From U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), information about the CARES Act (H.R. 748) and Family First Coronavirus Response
SBA – Paycheck Protection Program Application
CDC – How to Wear a Cloth Covering

Mahalo Senator Kanuha for this information.

Tell us about faculty stepping up to the Coronavirus challenge

COVID-19 is creating difficult challenges for UH Faculty and we are rising to the occasion. All of us know someone who is going beyond the call, for example: extraordinary work with students and our community, putting themselves in harm’s way, developing innovations to fight COVID-19, creating bio-based products to reduce the virus’s spread, increasing food security and sustainability, and other efforts to help our community cope with this pandemic.

Please share with us stories about our faculty stepping up to the Coronavirus challenge so we can share their stories and underscore (or highlight) our ongoing labor/work how they are playing key roles in this ongoing battle.

Complete the form below or if you are on a mobile phone click this link to open a new tab.