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.

HomeStreet Bank offers free financial education and resources

UHPA membership partner HomeStreet Bank sent us this information below which we believe will be of benefit to UHPA members.

Recognizing that members are dealing with financial concerns as well as physical and emotional, we have expanded the on-line member financial support services offered through the Inside Edge Program. In addition to the Inside Edge exclusive discounts on home loans and refinance loans to reduce monthly payments, your members now have access to expertly-crafted financial education and resources at no cost.

HomeStreet Bank is partnering with an organization called “BALANCE”:

Your financial wellness is important. HomeStreet Bank’s Inside Edge Program is partnering with BALANCE, a non-profit financial fitness program to provide you with free access to financial education and resources. It’s easy to set up an account and sign up under “employee” category to utilize online tools such as financial calculators and videos, and search for articles based on your current financial life stage or register for money-management webinars. We hope these online resources address some of the financial needs you may be facing during these uncertain times.

Click the button below for the UHPA Member-only content and follow the links to “Access free educational content”

 

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.

UHPA Open Letter to Hawaii State Legislators and our Faculty Members

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly is grateful and offers our thanks to  our Hawaii State Legislators who approved the scheduled salary increases for all public-sector employees at the State Capitol today.

The previously negotiated 2% salary increase will go into effect on July 1, 2020 for 11-month faculty and August 1, 2020 for 9-month faculty.  In addition, the 1.2% salary increase for faculty pursuant to Article XXX, Duration of the 2017-2021 Unit 7 Agreement, which was to have gone into effect on January 2, 2020, will be retroactively funded with today’s vote.

We worked with our elected officials and provided all the relevant information they needed to help them make a conscientious decision, and we are grateful for the decision that they made.

Public-sector employees are the ones who are responsible to keep essential government services and programs in our state operating – even during an extremely dangerous worldwide pandemic.  The passage of this measure is especially critical now as we all work together to help reboot and rebuild our state’s economy.  The Legislators vote in favor of the salary increases reflects its commitment and support for the State’s economic stabilization, recovery, and resilience.  There is no question that our hard working and dedicated faculty play a significant role in the State’s stability, recovery, and resilience through its nationally recognized research programs, innovation, medical and technological advancements, and excellence in providing high quality post-secondary education to the next generation of leaders.

A big MAHALO to all the faculty members who reached out to legislators these past several weeks to share their personal stories and perspectives in support of salary increases for all faculty. We know public higher education is the equalizer that is sorely needed right now for our State and our Nation during these times. During the Great Recession, UH experienced a significant increase in student enrollment as individuals went back to school to learn new skills to help better prepare themselves for the demands of an ever changing and evolving work environment. We anticipate there will be even more of a demand for higher education across the county, as well as, locally as a result of this pandemic.

Thank you to all the faculty for your ongoing commitment to your students and our community. You make significant contributions to the stabilization and growth of our economy. UH faculty also continue to attract federal, private, and out-of-state funding, which is especially important with the constraints on the state budget to generate jobs and spawn new industries and applications.

Keep up the great work. And stay tuned for more updates.

Christian L. Fern
UHPA Executive Director

Adjustment to UHPA Statutory Dues Deduction

For most UHPA members, the scheduled Statutory Dues (SD 725) deduction for the May 20, 2020 payroll did not get processed.  UHPA was notified by the Hawaii Information Portal (HIP) Service Center that they had experienced an issue with their system configuration last pay period. Therefore, the missed deduction amount will be processed on the June 5, 2020 paycheck as a “SD 726” deduction along with your regularly scheduled deduction “SD 725” amount.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. Please feel free to contact UHPA via email at feedback@uhpa.org if you have any questions or concerns.

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.

Aloha! Welcome to the Virtual Annual Membership Reports

As President of UHPA I am pleased to present our annual reports to you, our UHPA members, in electronic format while we are practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 crisis. Included as links to Google documents you will find a President’s Report, a report from our Executive Director Christian Fern, and a report from Tom Apple, Treasurer.  Please email feedback@uhpa.org with any questions you might have. We also welcome ideas for ways to continue to reach out to new and existing members. We all look forward to seeing you when that becomes feasible.

Warm regards,
Ashley Maynard

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.

2020 Newly Elected UHPA Board of Directors & Officers

On Saturday, April 25, 2020 the UHPA Board of Directors met via Zoom and welcomed six (6) newly elected and two (2) re-elected Board members from across Hawai‘i .

Elected to represent their campus for three-year terms are:

  • Norman Takeya (re-elected), Assistant Professor of Architecture Engineering & CAD Technologies, representing Honolulu Community College
  • Kelli Nakamura, Assistant Professor of Arts & Humanities (History), representing Kapiolani Community College
  • Sarah Gray, Instructor & Librarian, representing Windward Community College
  • Jason Kenji Higa (re-elected), Assistant Professor of Anatomy, Biochemistry & Physiology, representing the University of Hawaii at Mānoa
  • Sarita Rai, Director of the Study Abroad Center, representing the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
  • Joe Ramos, Researcher & Deputy Director of the UH Cancer Center, representing the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
  • Susanne Still, Professor of Department of Information & Computer Sciences, representing the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
  • Chun Han Wang, Professor of the Academy for Creative Media, representing the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

An election of new officers for the UHPA Executive Committee was conducted at this BOD meeting. UHPA President Ashley Maynard’s term continues through 2021.  Congratulations to the newly elected officers:

Vice President: Karla Hayashi, UH-Hilo
Secretary: Jason Kenji Higa, UH-Mānoa
Treasurer: David Duffy, UH-Mānoa
Members-at-Large: Harald Ebeling (UH-Mānoa), Alphie Garcia (UH-West Oahu), Samuel Giordanengo (Hawai’i CC)