HLRB Refuses to Order – Allows UHPA to Challenge in Court

Refuse to rule for good cause and lack of jurisdiction

On Thursday, June 20, 2021, the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) issued an order no. 3764 over UHPA’s Petition for Declaratory Ruling in Case No. 21-DR-07-177.  Essentially, the Board refused to issue any ruling over UHPA’s three (3) questions presented to the Board for good cause and lack of jurisdiction.

Constitutional issues not within Board’s authority

UHPA questioned the following in its Petition for Declaratory Ruling:

  1. Whether the legislative deletion of a specific occupied bargaining unit position violates Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 89, specifically whether any item in a budget bill that purports to delete an occupied position is null and void based on HRS § 89-19;
  2. Whether, if DAVID Y. IGE, Governor, State of Hawaii (Governor) signs HB 200 into law, has he committed a prohibited practice as a public employer due to the legislative deletion of a specific occupied bargaining unit position, specifically whether it would be a prohibited practice under HRS § 89-13[a](7) for the Governor to sign HB 200, based on §§ 89-3 and 89-8, and/or a prohibited practice under HRS § 89-13[a](8); and
  3. Whether, if the Governor signs HB 200 into law, when HB 200 contains the legislative deletion of a specific occupied bargaining unit position, any animus of a Hawaii State Legislator (Legislator) may be attributed to the Governor, and, if the Legislator’s animus is of an exacerbated type, it would justify an extraordinary corrective order from the Board.

The Board analyzed UHPA’s question 1. and 3. and determined that they are matters that question constitutional issues and not statutory matters covered under Chapter 89, HRS, in which the Board has original jurisdiction and authority.  On question 2. the Board determined that the question is not properly before the Board to rule since there was no prohibited practice complaint filed.

Provides Pathway for Circuit Court Challenge

The Board’s order now allows UHPA to challenge the constitutional issues and concerns over HB 200 in Hawaii’s Circuit Court. The order was not necessarily unexpected, as in prior cases the courts have required the exhaustion of all applicable administrative remedies. 

Next Steps

UHPA’s leadership and legal counsel are currently reviewing and analyzing the Board’s recent order. UHPA will keep the membership apprised of any future actions taken on this matter.

Book Now: UHPA’s Disney Aulani Weekend!

Our very popular UHPA Disney Aulani Weekend returns for it’s 7th annual event on Oct 29 & 30, 2021.  Don’t miss out!

UHPA members love the Disney Aulani Resort. If you are an early bird planner, this is your chance to get the best rooms at our heavily discounted rates before they sell out as they do every year.

Start Earlier or Stay Later

Our special rates are in effect for Oct 29 & 30.  Want to stay longer? You can reserve dates up to 5 days before or after our special rate days.  This year brings a special treat as it overlaps the Halloween weekend which should be extra fun for the whole family

First Come, First Serve Will Sell Out Quickly

You’ve probably already experienced COVID-related shortages and booking difficulties.  Early bird reservations are open now and we highly recommend you make your reservations as we only have limited availability and if previous years are an indication, this will sell out very quickly.

UHPA Believes Budgetary Cuts Violate Our Statutory & Constitutional Rights, Files Request for Hawaii Labor Relations Board Ruling

A University of Hawaii position currently occupied by a tenured faculty member is potentially being eliminated because of a legislative bill designed to target that specific job position. That bill is now with Gov. David Ige awaiting his approval or veto. UHPA has filed a complaint with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board to preempt any violations of Hawaii’s laws, the state constitution and collective bargaining agreement.

Taking a Stand

After several weeks of discussions and conversations, multiple news reports, and various opinions and perspectives shared by UH and State officials, UHPA cannot take a wait-and-see approach any longer.  The specific action of summarily terminating an existing Unit 7 position currently occupied by a tenured 11-month researcher with many years of service and in good standing through targeted legislation cannot be accepted nor condoned.  

Action is Unprecedented  

Never in the history of UHPA did any Faculty member have to fear their employment could be targeted for termination by a legislator.  This action by the Legislature was not the normal sweep of vacant positions for budgetary purposes.  This was a direct and purposeful act to terminate one specific position from the UH filled and occupied by a tenured Faculty Member.

Violating Statutory and Constitutional Rights

HB 200, CD 1, if approved or not vetoed by the Governor, would not only violate Chapter 89, HRS, and our existing Unit 7 Agreement, but in UHPA’s view would violate our Hawaii State Constitutional Rights under Article XIII, Section 2.  UHPA believes that the same tenets as argued before the Hawaii Supreme Court in Act 100, SLH 1999, are the same principals at play in HB 200, CD 1. 

By Ignoring the Collective Bargaining Process

UHPA believes that as in Act 100, SLH 1999, the law would violate Article XIII, Section 2, because it negates the collective bargaining process on core subjects such as wages, hours and other conditions of employment that the voters contemplated would be part of the bargaining process when they ratified the Section 2 at the November 5, 1968 general election.

We Have No Choice

On Friday, May 28, 2021, UHPA through its legal counsel Gill, Zukeran, and Sgan, filed a request for a declaratory ruling with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB).  While this action is unprecedented and has never been attempted before, UHPA can’t take the back seat and wait until something does or doesn’t happen.  We cannot consciously accept these types of inappropriate actions without questioning its legality.

Media Statement 

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) filed a petition for a “declaratory ruling” with the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board (HLRB) this afternoon in response to the underhanded actions taken to modify the budget bill in conference committee without public input that terminated a tenured Faculty member’s position with the University of Hawai‘i effective July 1, 2021.

The unprecedented action has forced UHPA to take the extraordinary step of filing this petition with the HLRB to assess the bill from a legal and constitutional perspective before the June 21st deadline when Gov. David Ige must decide on his intent to veto. 

We brought this to the attention of the HLRB for a number of important reasons:

  • This action is a clear example of overreach. The Hawai‘i State Constitution empowers only the UH Board of Regents to assert exclusive control over the internal structure, management and operations of the University of Hawai‘i system.
  • This specific action of targeting a single position is not designed or intended to support budgetary concerns. There were as many as 60 other vacant faculty positions available for use.  The action only targeted one position that is currently filled by a tenured faculty member.
  • Protocols and procedures that affect the employment status of faculty members are specifically covered in the Unit 7 collective bargaining agreement to protect against these types of arbitrary and capricious actions. UHPA believes the bill violates the existing terms of the Unit 7 collective bargaining agreement and infringes upon our constitutional right to engage in collective bargaining.  

UHPA is seeking the HLRB’s position on our expressed concerns.

“It is unfortunate that we must expend substantial amounts of the time, energy, money, and resources to address this grievous action instead of allowing our Faculty to devote their full and undivided attention on preparing for the upcoming fall semester and to continue to support the role of the UH as an economic engine to accelerate our state’s economic recovery.”

UHPA Responds to Campus Reopening Plans

As UHPA continues to join with the UH administration to battle budgetary concerns created by the Senate, it is critical to ensure we remain in alignment with UH administration on other issues impacting faculty and students. It is imperative that we see eye-to-eye on the details of the campus reopening to move forward together. Clear communication and open dialogue are critical to avoid misunderstandings and missteps so we can effectively address bigger issues affecting public higher education in Hawaii.

We Successfully Worked Together at the Start of the Pandemic

When the pandemic and resulting lockdown occurred early last year, the University of Hawai‘i administration and faculty came together to determine how to deliver education in an online environment. Together, we were able to rapidly pivot to ensure there would be no interruption in the education of students and safely carry on research.

That experience showed the value of collaboration to create a positive experience for the UH administration, faculty, students and the community. 

Shouldn’t We Work Together to Plan the Reopenings Too?

Now nearly a year later, with the prospect of the University of Hawaii preparing to resume in-person learning on the campuses statewide, it would be prudent to approach the reopening with the same degree of meticulous detail to cover all the bases to ensure a successful reopening.

UHPA was Notified On 5/20 About the Reopenings

UH Vice President for Administration Jan Gouveia sent a letter dated May 20, 2021 to University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) Executive Director Christian Fern announcing UH’s plans to transition to campus reopenings. The letter sent was subsequently transmitted to the UHPA Negotiations Committee.  

And it Was Brief On Details & Specifics

The perfunctory letter outlined little about the UH’s plan other than the tentative targeted dates, as noted below, to coincide with a full campus reopening in the fall 2021 semester:

  • By June 1, 2021: Remove all signage that campuses are closed to the public. Supervisors should start preparing for all buildings and offices to be open for full, in-person services during normal business hours by July 6, 2021. 
  • July 6, 2021: All UH buildings and offices will be open for full, in-person services during normal business hours. 
  • August 3, 2021: All employees are expected to report to their respective campus offices and resume normal business operations. The COVID-19 Voluntary Telework Policy will be rescinded as current COVID-19 conditions no longer warrant the need for employees to work from home.

We Have Concerns About the Lack of Details

The brevity of details and specifics were very concerning. Such vague reopening plans can lead to many different interpretations, expectations, outcomes, and directives without understanding the UH administration’s intent, purpose, and desired outcomes. To move forward together, we cannot afford ambiguity. Clarity, open communication and collaboration are critical. 

UHPA has Responded and is Looking Forward to Discussions

The UHPA Negotiations Committee wasted no time in sending back a response to the UH Administration on May 27, 2021 — a day before the requested deadline — with a list of questions and requests for information, while also expressing concerns and reservations about resuming normal operations on all campuses on August 3, 2021. 
UHPA has requested that the UH administration respond no later than June 7, 2021 to the list of questions and requests for information so that informative and meaningful discussions and dialogue can commence immediately.    

Latest on vaccination requirements at UH

COVID-19 Vaccinations Required for Faculty?

Vaccination required for students

On May 17, 2021, University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner publicly announced that it will add COVID-19 vaccination to its student health clearance requirements beginning in the Fall 2021 semester. The mandate for students means that to be on any UH campus, you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless exempted for medical and religious reasons. The decision was based on recommendations from the American College Health Association and the University of Hawai‘i’s Health and Well-being Working Group to create a safer campus.

Only after full FDA approval

UH President Lassner said the vaccine requirement will take effect only after at least one of the three COVID-19 vaccines (i.e. Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson), currently authorized for emergency use, has been approved and fully licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA approval is expected by this summer.

Treated just like other health clearance requirements

Students will be able to request exemptions for medical or religious reasons, just as those allowed for other existing health clearance requirements such as TB, MMR, Tdap, Varicella, MCV (for first year students living in on-campus housing), and other strongly recommended vaccinations such as MenB, Polio, Hep A & B, and Human Papillomavirus.

What does this mean for faculty?

UH President Lassner notified UHPA and the two other unions that represent UH employees systemwide about his intention to also extend the mandate to faculty and staff. To date, President Lassner has not submitted any formal proposal to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for faculty and staff.  Therefore, formal discussions with the UH administration have not yet begun.

UHPA’s public statement on faculty vaccinations

“We recognize the value of COVID-19 vaccinations and their positive impact for Hawaii residents. However, it is important that we move forward carefully to ensure we balance public health and safety with individual choice and an individual’s existing health condition,” said Christian Fern, UHPA Executive Director. “We have had a productive relationship with the UH administration throughout the pandemic, based on mutual trust and respect. This is yet another bridge to cross that we are confident we will be able to resolve together through joint decision making.”

Questions

UHPA recognizes that there will be many questions and concerns raised by faculty about the proposed mandate.  Questions such as who is eligible for exemptions; how will the mandate be managed and enforced; will there be consequences; what can be expected to make faculty feel secure; how will this be integrated into the collective bargaining process, etc.  If you have other relevant questions regarding the proposed COVID-19 vaccination requirement for faculty and staff, please email your questions to the UHPA Negotiations Committee via feedback@uhpa.org.  The UHPA Negotiations Committee plans to compile and categorize faculty questions and concerns in preparation for future discussions with the UH administration.

Editor’s Note on re-opening plans

UHPA is reviewing a letter received on May 20th from Jan Gouveia regarding reopening plans and will respond before the requested May 28th deadline.

SENATOR DONNA MERCADO KIM – Fiscal accountability or strategic targeting?

Targeted Faculty RIFs:

Senator Donna Mercado Kim’s Modus Operandi

The parti-pris decisions and actions made by Hawai‘i’s legislators this past session speak volumes about their views and support over Hawai‘i’s public higher education system – namely the University of Hawai‘i. It’s especially clear that those in the Senate who continue to chip away at the core foundation that makes the University of Hawai‘i a nationally respected research institution and demand justification for its existence – will better serve our community and its constituents – by working to build up this valuable economic engine for the state. 

Harmful Legislation will Jeopardize R1 Status

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, did not hold back this past legislative session pushing for proposed legislation that would negatively impact the nucleus that allowed the University of Hawai‘i to obtain the distinguished Carnegie R1 institution. The Senator’s proposals would have altered UH policies and practices that unfortunately have long-term, difficult-to-reverse ramifications, that not only jeopardize the institution but impact the recruitment, retention, and competitiveness of UH faculty members.  The Senator believes the institution, in and by itself, magically obtained the R1 distinction not the Faculty who excelled and propelled the institution to get there. Ultimately, these impacts would have adversely affected the quality of instruction for students and the quality of life for the broader community.

The Silent Ones

As in previous legislative sessions, Sen. Mercado Kim has an ax-to-grind and has made a public fiasco and mockery of the University of Hawai‘i based on her perceived beliefs and perceptions. She had no qualms proposing to legislate the elimination of specific faculty positions under the guise of “a matter of statewide concern” all the while proclaiming that dismantling the university is justified and being done as the guardian of public funds. Her Higher Education Committee members and others in the Senate are complicit – rubber stamping her decisions – and failing to challenge the false narratives and innuendos. If it were not for the strong efforts and pushback from UHPA and the UH against these legislative endeavors, this past session would have been an unmitigated disaster waiting to happen.

Tampering with Funding and Compensation

Currently, general funds are used to pay for the majority of UH faculty salaries. However, if Sen. Mercado Kim had her way, she would demand that at least 25% or more of the cost of salaries of UH researchers would be the UH’s sole responsibility to fund via extramural funds or the research and training revolving fund (RTRF). As proposed in SB 1394, this would’ve been the new expectation going forward beginning on July 1, 2021, the start of the next fiscal year.

Refuses to Recognize Restrictions on Research Grant Funds

Her grandiose plans to single out UH researchers fell flat. If she had done her homework, asked the right questions, and taken the time to listen and learn, Sen. Mercado Kim would have realized that research grants often prohibit funds from being allocated for salaries for Principal Investigators (PI). This caveat ensures the university that the faculty member applying for a grant also has a vested interest in the success of the research project or equally a shared responsibility. This is just one example and one restriction that would’ve rendered her legislative proposal not actionable.  

Questioning Value of Tenure

Another case in point: SB 1328 called into question the value of tenured faculty. It not only revealed Sen. Mercado Kim’s lack of basic understanding of university systems, but also her disrespect and disregard for faculty who work hard to achieve tenure. The bill attempts to unjustly support the Senator’s meddling by pointing out that a tenured position “results in the long term commitment of public resources for that position.”

Fish or Cut Bait? How About Just a Switch?

After successfully pointing out the purpose of tenure in higher education systems to preserve and protect academic freedom, Sen. Mercado Kim agreed to have the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the University of Hawai‘i administration prepare a joint resolution to reflect their concerns and opinions before the start of the 2022 legislative session.

UHPA and UH dutifully obliged, and immediately drafted a joint resolution way ahead of schedule – reiterating key points about the intent of tenured positions; the difficult process in obtaining tenure; and the value of tenure to retain faculty.

Espousing Her Cause

Not surprisingly, Sen. Mercado Kim disregarded the UHPA-UH administration resolution and created a resolution of her own, urging the UH and UHPA to convene a task force to examine the UH’s tenure system specifically targeting researchers and other non-instructional faculty.  She also rolled in a compensation structure of faculty engaged in activities that are supported by extramural funding and grants, comparing this with peer U.S. higher education institutions.

Forms Task Force to Advance the Agenda

The Senator’s resolution convenes a task force to examine and assess the UH’s tenure system for researchers and other non-instructional faculty, and compensation structure of faculty engaged in activities supported by extramural funding and grants, in comparison to peer institutions in the UH and proposes best practices for the UH.  Essentially, the narrative has been written and desired outcomes have been pre-defined for the task force.  Bottom line is the belief that all non-instructional faculty do not deserve the opportunity and granting of tenure irrespective of their work and contributions to the UH and the students they serve.  We hope that this seven-member task force chaired by the UH Board of Regents’ Chair will perform their due diligence in considering the meaning and value of providing tenure to Faculty irrespective of their classification and the true value and benefits that are provided to the institution and the students they serve and not capitulate to political interference and pressures.

The Relentless Pursuit

Perhaps Sen. Mercado Kim is hoping this new task force will give her a different response from what has already been shared with her. This being insisted by someone who claims to be focused and more concerned about saving public funds is puzzling. This time consuming exercise in futility will only waste money, time, and resources that could be put to better and more productive use elsewhere. 

Killing the Living and Saving the Dead

The legislature has already proposed budget cuts that could impact a number of existing tenured positions. There is currently an occupied position slated for the chopping block to save $343,000, but six (6) vacant positions totaling nearly $692,000 have been kept intact. These types of decisions have to make you wonder if these actions are in fact purely budgetary decisions intended to save money or if they are part of a hidden-agenda to attack specific positions designed to enact a legislative reduction in force. No matter how you look at it, it seems to be more of a targeted RIF than a strategic fiscal decision as the guardian of public funds.  What do you think? 

Watch for upcoming information about our observations to hold our lawmakers accountable.

UHPA Members can get discounted hurricane insurance

The below message is from UHPA benefits partner Farmers Insurance:


Hurricane Coverage in Hawaii

Your home is your castle. It protects you and your family, as well as your worldly possessions, from the elements. For many, the home is also your major investment. Yet natural hazards such as hurricanes can threaten your home, and the results can be devastating.

Remember: To protect your property from the winds of a hurricane, you need hurricane insurance. A standard homeowner’s policy will not cover hurricanes. Flooding is also a common event during hurricanes and storms. A separate flood insurance policy is needed to cover flood damage.

That’s why UHPA is working with Farmers Hawaii to provide UHPA members with special rates and priority service. Farmers Hawaii understands the needs of Hawaii residents with a local, personal, hands-on care that people in the island community deserve. That way you know you’re getting the coverage you want.

Hurricanes are most likely to occur June through November in Hawaii. So now is a good time to talk to a representative at Farmers Hawaii to make sure you are prepared. While it is never possible to eliminate all damage from the destructive force of a hurricane or flood, speaking with a representative from Farmers Hawaii could significantly lower your risk and possibly save you money on your existing coverage. 

If you purchase hurricane and/or flood insurance through Farmers Hawaii, you’ll receive a discount on your Farmers Hawaii auto insurance policy. If you don’t already have a Farmers Hawaii auto insurance policy, call the dedicated UHPA line today at 800-420-9176 and you could save you up to $366* on your auto insurance. 

Farmers Hawaii has been the choice of many island residents since 1955. We’re always here to answer your questions, as well as to help keep all your insurance plans up to date.

One Senator builds. The other destroys. Which one did UH get?

A Study of Contrasts:
Lower Education Advocate, Higher Education Antagonist


Transparency and accountability. These are essential qualities we can demand and expect from our elected officials whom we vote into office and are given our trust that they individually will do the right thing for Hawai‘i’s people. Unfortunately, these essential qualities appear to be absent from legislators serving on the Senate’s Higher Education Committee. Navigating through the murkiness of their actions, though their shallow narratives and innuendos, may prove to be difficult to see things clearly.  However, when the haze and confusion clears, one thing is certain – their recent actions will pose significant challenges and harmful effects not only to the University of Hawai‘i faculty but the institution itself. 

Nothing escapes the attention or provokes the ire of the community faster than trying to introduce policies that cause more harm than good for a child’s education and future success. 


And for good reason. Access to a quality public education is a fundamental and Constitutional right for all children in Hawai‘i free from discrimination and irrespective of their family’s socioeconomic status. In addition, the Hawai’i educational system is very unique as it is a Statewide system rather than county or jurisdictional system.  An educational system — from preschool and through grade 12 — though highly qualified teachers and rigorous standards set the future foundation for children’s lives and chances of future success. It also serves as the bedrock for the pursuit of higher education and other potential career pathways.

Action that harm our children cannot stand

It often goes without saying that the children are our future, and thus, we must do everything we can to build and support a strong and supportive educational system for children. Any attempt to undermine or weaken the educational system is not only harmful to our keiki but will result in long term negative impacts on our community and society.  Actions that harm and diminish the value of education and the return of its investments must be immediately called into question and the individuals responsible for these ill-conceived policies must be called out.

Lower Education Advocate: Sen. Kidani

Hawai‘i families are fortunate to have a strong champion for our public education system in the legislature. Sen. Michelle Kidani has consistently shown to be a tough advocate for students, teachers, school staff and administrators, and their impacted communities – relentless and unafraid of sparring with the Department of Education and the Board of Education over policies and actions that run contrary to supporting a strong educational system.

Is this what good leadership looks like?

As an example, earlier this legislative session Sen. Kidani’s unwavering  support for our public education system was critical in ensuring and maintaining ongoing support and funding for the education of Hawai‘i’s children. When Hawai‘i learned additional federal funds would be available for the schools, Sen. Kidani and other key legislators were instrumental in passing a legislative bill that was designed to use such funds to address potential budgetary reductions including personnel costs at the school level to avoid potential layoffs, furloughs, or pay reductions. 

The bill stipulated the funds would be released to the Department of Education only after the Board of Education and superintendent certified that they agreed the funds would be used as outlined in these bills.

There was unanimous agreement among the Senate Education Committee, House Education Committee and the Hawaii State Teachers Association that the funds should be allocated for teachers first instead of tutors.

Higher Education Antagonist: Sen. Kim

Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, by contrast, is the antithesis of Sen. Kidani. While Sen. Kidani’s goal is clearly to build and support our lower education system, by all indications, Sen. Mercado Kim’s personal vendetta is to destroy Hawaii’s higher education system. Sen. Mercado Kim has introduced several bills that serve no other value or purpose other than to inflict unnecessary harm and to diminish value in the University of Hawai‘i system. For example, she questioned the value and purpose of tenure for faculty  (See “UHPA Defends Tenure at the Legislature”) . 

Jeopardizing the UH’s R1 Status 

By undermining the very foundation of our university and diminishing the important role of tenure to ensure academic freedom, she put the University of Hawai‘i — perhaps knowingly and purposefully — in a precarious position. By proposing to eliminate tenure for certain faculty, she would have jeopardized the University of Hawai‘i’s status as a Carnegie Research 1 institution.

Unfortunately, facts and evidence are not important for consideration in the eyes of Sen. Mercado Kim, who has been in the Senate since 2000. She has unfortunately either dismissed or misused information to create her own biased and false narratives to achieve her personal vendetta.

How can others let this stand?

Surprisingly and worrisome is that her fellow senators have not held her accountable or challenged her unfounded and unsubstantiated claims. They let her do as she pleases — perhaps as a consolation prize for having been unseated after serving as Senate President for two years.

But wait! There’s more. 

Read next week’s Monday Report for more details about Sen. Mercado Kim’s secretive, last-minute plan to eliminate fringe benefit payments for some University of Hawai‘i faculty.

Our Senate’s punch to the gut of UH

It’s deja vu all over again with budget cuts

As a faculty member of the University of Hawaii system, you play a key and significant role in supporting our state’s economic recovery. Unfortunately, our legislators, particularly those in the Senate, do not see you in this way.

After having to endure a tumultuous year of on-again/off-again threats of furloughs, layoffs and pay cuts from Gov. David Ige, we find ourselves back in a tenuous situation, only this time the  problem stems from actions by legislators in the Senate.

Federal Funds Not Being Tapped to Continue Vital Functions

Our state’s budget deficit has required all of us — UHPA, UH administration, legislators and others — to come together to have an open dialogue to explore possible solutions. We had come up with the ideal solution: the House updated the budget using federal relief funds to fill in the budget gaps to ensure the University of Hawai‘i could continue to operate without interruption. The proposed House budget provided the necessary components to ensure stability in our local economy and ensured faculty could continue to deliver key and vital services and functions — exactly what the federal relief funds were intended to do.

UH’s budget got gutted – by our Senate

With a solid budget in hand, we were all ready to move forward. Unfortunately, the Senate had other plans that no one had known about earlier. The Senate decided to throw a wrench into everyone’s plan by suggesting that the University of Hawai‘i make up the budget shortfall by seeking other sources of funding. Our elected senators decided to instead gut and replace as much as they were allowed under federal guidelines. With no regard for transparency and openness, they offered no rhyme or reason for their changes. Their rationale and modus operandi still remains a mystery. Unfortunately, their actions and decisions will place many of you in a precarious position.

Manoa caught the worst of it

They are apparently delighted in putting a squeeze on faculty, the very employees who are vitally necessary for Hawai‘i’s economic recovery. At the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, which would be the campus most impacted by their capricious decision, there will be a 13.8% budget reduction compared to the current fiscal year. This has grave implications for all UHPA members employed on the Mānoa campus.

Furloughs, Layoffs and Pay Cuts All Over Again?

The Senate has clearly revealed their intentions. There is no delicate way of saying this: the Senate is forcing the possibility of furloughs, pay cuts, and retrenchment on UH faculty. Just when we all thought we could confidently move forward together, we find ourselves right back to square one all over again, exactly where we were last year before the federal funds were received. The uncertainty this creates is crippling. How can the Senate expect UHPA members to continue to provide UH students with the support, services, and the quality of education they need to stay on the pathway for success and to develop the future leaders of the world in helping to rebuild our economy while simultaneously dealing with the haunting prospect of losing their jobs?

Moment of truth for Legislators – step up or stand by

It’s easy for legislators to try to appear heroic and proudly proclaim that they are deferring their own pay raises because so many in our community are unemployed. However, their actions and false narratives show a different scenario.  Is it too much to expect that they step up and prevent more unemployment of Hawai‘i residents, especially on their constituents that elected them to office?  They not only have the power to make this happen, they have a choice to do so. Whether they choose to exercise this power to do what is pono is another story. 

But it’s OK to spend millions on a project no one at UH is asking for

Even more concerning is the Senate’s allocation of $42.5 million dollars for a Resource and Education Center in Wahiawa that was not requested by both the UH Board of Regents or the UH administration. There are still many unanswered questions and uncertainties as to why such a costly and unanticipated demand was placed on the University when the monies could’ve been allocated to help maintain essential services, programs, and personnel to help the institution stay afloat.  According to Senator Donovan Dela Cruz, the project provides a new library and DOE offices and classrooms for the community college which will help revitalize the Wahiawa town. However, pursuing this project results in serious tradeoffs. The question we all have is at what expense and what impact to the UH system overall can this project be justified, especially at a time when the UH administration is already dealing with many other imminent and dangerous budgetary shortfalls? While we acknowledge the foresight, there are impending budgetary shortfalls that could more urgently use the federal allocations now.    

It’s unacceptable and we’re not going to stand for it

We have fought long and hard by pushing back against the Governor’s demands and threats.  To have the Senate reverse the effort and agreements we have made through open dialogue and discussions is insulting and offensive.  As the saying goes, when the going gets tough the tough gets going and rest assured that the leadership of UHPA will not tolerate such injustice and deceitfulness. 

We’ll get through this – together

As it has been proven in the past, joint-decision making and collaboration is the proven method to moving forward. UHPA plans to work closely with the UH administration to find a better way to advance the Universityʻs interests. Last year, because of our collective efforts to quickly mobilize with the UH administration to address the challenges of the pandemic, the UH system granted 10,850 degrees and certificates to students. For the spring semester, which is wrapping up soon, there could potentially be as many as 6,400 additional undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates granted. The final figure will be confirmed after commencement is held on May 15. Clearly, the UH economic engine is humming, and needs to continue to operate to lift Hawai‘i’s people out of the doldrums.

    
Economic recovery will come when we work together as a team instead of against each other as opponents. Isn’t it time we finally move forward with one mind, one spirit, and one common purpose?

Mahalo nui loa,

Christian Fern

Executive Director                                                

University of Hawaii Professional Assembly

Legislature Funds UHPA Ratified Contract

We are pleased to inform you that the Legislature has approved and appropriately funded our recently ratified (with a 95% approval) successor agreement (2021-2023), including the negotiated increases to the EUTF.   You can download a PDF for details of the negotiated increases and the updated premium rates as you make your decisions for what plans best suit you during this open enrollment period. 

Download the PDFs of EUTF Rates contributions

 

What would your premiums be “IF” the contract wasn’t ratified?