UHPA Endorses Mayoral Candidate Rick Blangiardi

 

UHPA Endorses Rick Blangiardi for Honolulu Mayor

After carefully evaluating the needs of the University of Hawai‘i faculty and the vision of the two Honolulu mayoral candidates, the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly (UHPA) has decided to endorse Rick Blangiardi for mayor. The decision was based on the recommendation of UHPA’s political endorsement committee, which is composed of UH faculty.

UHPA regularly endorses candidates in gubernatorial and state legislative races, and typically has not endorsed mayoral candidates or those running in city or county races. The exceptions have been for Eileen Anderson and Jeremy Harris.

“We felt it was important to weigh in on this year’s mayoral race for the upcoming general election because there are great needs in the community as a result of the pandemic,” said Christian Fern, UHPA’s executive director. “The mayor has the ability to influence how effectively and efficiently O‘ahu recovers from the pandemic and becomes more resilient.”

Affordable housing was a major concern for faculty even before the pandemic, and now it is a top priority, especially since housing is key to recruiting and retaining faculty and ensuring the standards of quality instruction and research remain high at the UH.

Blangiardi has an affinity for the University of Hawai‘i. While he was a UH undergraduate in the mid-1960s, he served as linebacker with the Rainbow Warriors. He returned to Massachusetts with his mother and graduated from Springfield College. After serving in the U.S. Navy and being stationed at Pearl Harbor, he made Hawai‘i his home, and earned a master of arts degree in educational administration from the UH in 1973. He later served as a defensive coordinator and associate head coach for the Rainbow Warriors. He eventually changed careers to television, and was most recently general manager of Hawai‘i News Now.

After listening to both candidates, the political endorsement committee felt Blangiardi understood the needs of the faculty and the important role of unions. UHPA is proud to endorse Blangiardi for mayor.

Deferring Payroll Tax Obligation

On August 8, 2020, President Trump directed the Secretary of the Treasury to defer the withholding and payment of the employee portion of social security taxes from September 1 to December 31, 2020. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) confirmed on September 3, 2020 the tax deferral is optional and employers are not required to participate.

The directive does not eliminate the tax liability for employees. The IRS advised on August 28 that employers that choose to participate should withhold the deferred taxes from employees pay from January 1 to April 30, 2021 (next year), in addition to normal withholdings.

After a detailed evaluation and legal review, the State of Hawaii will not be participating and will continue standard tax withholding practices for our employees until such a time that conditions warrant reevaluation.

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.

Are you being counted in the 2020 Census?

It’s critical that we are all counted in the 2020 Census and right now it’s not looking very good for Hawaii – please see Congressman Ed Case’s letter received by UHPA below.  He has an important message and we’re encouraging all UHPA members to take the right action to make sure your household is counted in the 2020 Census.  Hawaii’s fair representation is depending on you!

I am reaching out to you, as a leader of Hawaii’s labor community, to ask for your full assistance and that of your own community in ensuring that our Hawai’i is fully counted in the 2020 Census, which is currently scheduled to conclude in just a few weeks on September 30th.

The Census, which our country has undertaken every ten years since 1790, is critical to our country and to each and all of us on several counts. First, it provides us with a regular update on how many and who we are to guide the best national policies. It also determines how many U.S. Representatives each state is designated and ensures that our overall population is as evenly distributed across our congressional district as possible.

Most critically and especially for a small state like Hawai’i, the Census guides the distribution of federal assistance across our country to our states and congressional districts. Hundreds of federal programs in critical areas like education, housing, health care, economic assistance, worker training, occupational safety and health, minority assistance and more depend on the Census statistics for where their federal assistance is directed. For our Hawai’i which receives billions of dollars in federal assistance annually, estimates are that each 1% of our population that is not counted results in over $16 million of lost federal funding. To make matters worse, often the communities that are undercounted are those in the most need of that federal assistance. All of this has been compounded with the dire needs of this COVID-19 pandemic, where trillions of dollars of federal emergency assistance have been distributed and will be distributed based on 2010 Census numbers (and from next year on 2020 Census numbers).

There are two basic stages to the 2020 Census count. In the first, Census responses from all households throughout our state are requested and welcomed voluntarily by phone or online. It is a very easy process that takes five to ten minutes per household. In the second stage, which began August 1st, voluntary responses continue but Census enumerators (counters) will attempt to visit every household that has not responded to take the count personally. Except in limited circumstances, the enumerators will not visit households that have already responded, so it is better and easier for everyone if households respond voluntarily by phone or online.

At present the last counting will be completed this September 30th and the 2020 Census will close. I believe this is way too early especially given COVID-19 and have urged an extension. But for now we must assume September 30th is the deadline. Best estimates now are that close to 40% of our households across our state are still not counted.

I ask for your kokua in taking the message to all of your members and their ‘ohana of the critical importance of a full Census count and asking everyone to do their part.

To assist with this effort to encourage participation in the 2020 Census, you can find a full list of all 2020 Census outreach materials at https://2020census.gov/en/partners/outreach-materials.html. Please feel free to use these however works best for you.

As English is a second language for so many among us in Hawai’i, I especially want to note that the 2020 Census is the first in our history to feature significantly expanded language access. Overall, the 2020 Census has provided language guides in 59 non-English languages, including full support in 12 of those languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese. For the full set of language resources for this year’s Census, including print and video materials, please visit https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/2020-census/planning-management/language-resources.html.

There are multiple ways to respond to the 2020 Census, but by far the easiest way is through the online form at https://my2020census.gov. For other ways to respond to the Census, such as by phone or mail, please visit https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html.

If you and any of your communities have any questions regarding the 2020 Census, please feel free to contact my staff for assistance. For Census related matters, you may reach my Washington office through Ben Chao at Ben.Chao@mail.house.gov or (202) 225-2726.

Thank you so much again for your dedication, consideration and assistance. I truly appreciate all that you can do to promote participation in the 2020 Census and all that you do for our community.

With aloha,

Congressman Ed Case

(Hawai’i-First District)

Political Action Fund Objection

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) has an active Political Endorsement Committee that has participated in state & federal elections through political endorsements, contributions to candidates and independent expenditures on behalf of our endorsed candidates. The UHPA Board of Directors has taken action to allocate from the dues of all UHPA Active members an amount of $5.00 a month to be placed in a Political Action Fund. The Fund will be subject to the accounting requirements and used for purposes consistent with the Hawaii State Election and Federal Election laws.

Our policy allows Active members of UHPA to object to the $5.00 per month allocation to the Political Action Fund. This will not lower their total dues, but it will not add to the total amount of funds allocated for partisan political purposes with respect to candidate endorsements and contributions. If an Active member chooses to object to this funding, they will not be allowed to vote on any recommendation for candidate endorsements made by the Board of Directors.

The request to withhold funding from the Political Action account must be made each year.  If you do not wish to contribute to the “candidate endorsement” fund for fiscal year 2020-2021, then you must sign, date, and return an UHPA Allocation Objection Form by November 2, 2020.

The UHPA Board of Directors has taken this action in response to the strong feelings held by some members that the union should not participate in making candidate endorsements or political contributions. However, we believe it is essential for a public sector union to maintain a political presence since the fundamental work of our bargaining with the State of Hawaii is ultimately subject to legislative approval.

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

John Radcliffe, A Fighter to the Very End

John Radcliffe, our friend and staunch advocate of University of Hawai‘i faculty, died on Tuesday, August 11. With the same fierce determination, courage, and tenacity to protect and defend the rights of faculty, he fought a six-year battle with cancer to the very end. He was 78 years old.

John served as associate executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) for 16 years, working with his long-time friend JN Musto, who was executive director at the time. John served from September 1991 to January 2007, and then served as a lobbyist on behalf of UHPA until June 2016.

“We have lost someone who had a deep understanding of people and politics,” said Christian Fern, UHPA’s executive director. “He worked relentlessly to advocate for fairness and had strong relationships based on years of mutual respect and trust. He was the consummate networker and was able to remember people’s names and took the time to learn about them. This made him warmly welcomed with all those he encountered.”

“His contributions endure today. He helped secure the rights and freedom faculty and others enjoy today and leaves behind an excellent model of caring for us to emulate,” Christian said.

John believed in the power of solidarity and collective bargaining. Before he joined UHPA, John was the executive director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association for 13 years. He came to Hawaii in 1975 from Virginia to lead HSTA and immediately hit the ground running to address the substandard working conditions for teachers. He was driven by his own experiences as he had been a teacher himself earlier in his career.

In recent years, John became a familiar face and spokesperson for Hawaii’s Our Care, Our Choice Act. After nearly 20 years of controversial debate and grassroots mobilization in the community, the Hawaii State Legislature passed bills for medical aid-in-dying, which was signed into law by Gov. David Ige in 2018 to be effective in January 2019. John was a beneficiary of this work, choosing to end his life on a high note with a prescription at his home this week.  

John leaves behind a legacy of feats, accomplishments, and acts that few can emulate, but from which tens of thousands will continue to benefit for decades to come.

Mahalo to John for all his outstanding contributions! We will miss you, but your irrepressible triumphant spirit will always be with us.

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.

UHPA Announces 2020 Political Endorsements

UHPA’s Political Endorsements for 2020 have been published on our Candidate Endorsements page and we urge all UHPA members to support the relevant candidate in your districts.

Why you should support these candidates

UHPA has a strong and consistent presence in the State Capitol in the pursuit of issues important to our faculty and defense of the UHPA-BOR Collective Bargaining Agreement. The endorsed candidates are either friends of UHPA or for those not yet holding office, give us the confidence that they will be friends.  Your support of these endorsed candidates will strengthen UHPA’s position in all legislative matters.

Our endorsement process

The new Political Endorsement Committee met at the close of the Legislative Session to begin preparing for the second round of legislative endorsements. They began by establishing a questionnaire (member only access) that would be sent to all candidates requesting UHPA’s endorsement.  

Questions we asked

An email subsequently went out to all candidates who requested an endorsement with the questionnaire attached.  A followup email was sent to establish interview dates and times to be held during the week of July 13.  The candidates had approximately two weeks to review the questionnaire prior to the interview process. 

Interviews we held

The PEC deliberated on contested districts in which they interviewed more than one candidate for that district.  The PEC took every aspect of the interview into consideration prior to their decision.   It is important to note that UHPA has not always participated in every campaign in every House or Senate District throughout the years.

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.