Online Voter Registration Deadline This Thursday – July 12

Reminder: The deadline to register to vote online is this Thursday, July 12th.  It is very simple and easy to do.  Simply visit the link below to begin.  You can also request a mail ballot or update your voter registration all online.

A Different Take on the U.S. Supreme Court “Janus” Ruling

By Lynne Wilkens, UHPA President

This past week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on Janus v. AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) has created a stir across the nation.

The ruling overturns the Supreme Court’s 1977 ruling on Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that has served as a precedent for more than 40 years. Janus serves as a new landmark case and is causing concern over the loss of employee rights and a weakened collective voice in the workplace. There has also been not-so-subtle gloating about renewed power for employers with a legal way to defund and cripple unions.

Backers of Mark Janus, the Illinois child worker, argued collective bargaining is inherently political in nature. Therefore, union members should no longer have to pay member dues because any assertions by unions violate the First Amendment rights of its members.

Yet in Hawaii, there is a different tenor and tone in response to Supreme Court’s decision. Over the past 18 months, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) armed its members with accurate information to brace them for the anticipated ruling and will continue to update its members as the new law is implemented in our state.

Hawaii embedded collective bargaining in its statutes to “promote harmonious and cooperative relations between government and its employees and to protect the public by assuring effective and orderly operations of government.” This establishes joint decision-making between government and its employees to create a win-win environment that supports Hawaii’s cultural values, our economy and our future.

University of Hawaii faculty members know that with UHPA as their designated union, they can speak with a strong, unified voice to negotiate with the UH administration and governor at the bargaining table. As a unified group, they can persuade legislators to release funds for wages in ratified contracts. All of this may seem overtly political because of the way the faculty contracts are approved and funded.

Under the Janus ruling, UHPA will continue to ensure contracts provide equitable and satisfactory terms of employment for all faculty, regardless of whether they are union members. However, support for grievances and other services will no longer be available to non-paying members. This is fair for the paying members.

Some UHPA members may not want to give up 1% of their salaries for agency fees. But we believe the majority of the members want UHPA’s representation and are willing to pay for it.

The broader community also benefits from a healthy equilibrium of power in the workplace. There is a UH professor who generates $35 million in non-state research funding and 450 jobs. This is only possible because the 4,000 faculty members at the 10 University of Hawaii campuses across the state represented by UHPA can focus on quality teaching, research, and community service due to the good contract they have in place.

Take away faculty’s voice and rights, and these community benefits also go away. Faculty members will not stay at the UH if they are treated unfairly, especially if they are offered a much more attractive compensation package from another university — another type of brain drain.

UHPA has a solid record of effective representation of UH faculty over the past 40 years. The union provides significant value for the dollar in contract negotiations, grievance settlements, and representation of faculty interests. This high-performance service has only been possible because of the collaboration between UHPA and its membership and we are confident this partnership will continue to play a vital role in the future.

Lynne Wilkens is president of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly’s board of directors.

Colleen Hanabusa for Governor

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly’s board of directors unanimously voted in favor of endorsing Colleen Hanabusa for governor and officially notified her campaign today. UHPA’s political endorsement committee had recommended Hanabusa to the board for consideration.

“Our endorsement was based on input from faculty as well as Colleen’s solid track record of support for public higher education in Hawaii,” said Lynne Wilkens, president of the UHPA board of directors. “We need a governor who is predictable, driven by consistent values, decisive, collaborative, and has the integrity to keep promises — all of the qualities that Colleen has demonstrated during her years as a leader in the legislature and in Congress.”

In the letter of endorsement to Hanabusa, Wilkens noted that affordable housing, quality child care and elder care, and the cost of living consistently top the list of critical issues raised by UH faculty. These concerns are directly linked to the ability to recruit and retain quality faculty to teach and conduct research at the University of Hawaii’s 10 campuses statewide.

Wilkens also noted the UH has been an economic engine for Hawaii, with faculty members attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in research funding from national sources that create local jobs and the development of practical solutions to pressing issues in the state.

“We believe it is important to maintain this diversity of funding sources to ensure our faculty-led research programs remain resilient to economic challenges and not solely dependent upon state support,” she said.

UHPA Endorses Colleen Hanabusa, for Governor

UHPA endorsement is based on faculty input as well as her solid track record of support for public higher education in Hawai‘i.  We agreed we need a governor who is predictable, driven by consistent values, decisive, collaborative and has the integrity to keep promises.  Concerns such as affordable housing, quality child care and elder care and the cost of living are directly linked to the ability to recruit and retain quality faculty.  The UH Faculty has been an economic engine for our state, attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in research funding from national sources that create local jobs and development of practical solutions to pressing issues in our state.  Colleen Hanabusa will advocate for ensuring there are the means to build and keep quality faculty that deliver for our students and our islands.

UHPA Endorses Heather Kimball, Senate District 4

UHPA was pleased to learn that Heather was a former faculty at the University of California and belonged to UPTE-CMA local 9119.  Heather has a strong higher education background.  Heather understands the issue before UHPA with retention and recruitment, research grants, facilities, and the every pending Janus case.  Heather has been serving her community in a variety of areas, as a business woman working in energy conservation, as a paddling coach to her membership in the American Meteorological Society.  These skills will serve UHPA and Senate District 4 well, we are pleased to endorse Heather.

UHPA Endorses Kalani English, Senate District 7

UHPA is excited to support Senator Kalani English who currently represents Senate District 7.  Senator English served as Vice Chair of the Labor Committee and was extremely helpful to UHPA during the session.  He personally met with the UHPA legislative team along with Senate leadership to discuss the passage of labor bills introduced by UHPA.  He has demonstrated a strong understanding of Chapter 89, the HLRB and the issues facing public unions due to the Janus case before the US Supreme Court.  UHPA believes Senator English will serve the faculty well.