UHPA news and announcements from week of 10/26-11/2

Bargaining Update

Mid-term bargaining and proposed furloughs

On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, the UHPA Negotiations Committee met to discuss the State’s Chief Negotiator Ryker Wada’s response dated October 20, 2020 regarding UHPA’s questions to the Governor’s proposal to negotiate furlough savings for bargaining Unit 7.  The UHPA Negotiations Committee still has a number of questions regarding the Governor’s proposal and are planning to entertain Chief Negotiator Ryker Wada’s request to meet and discuss the Governor’s proposal so that he can provide the additional clarification and information that UHPA’s Negotiations Committee is seeking before any determination is made.  

The UHPA Negotiations Committee will be offering to meet with Chief Negotiator Ryker Wada and State representatives remotely on Monday, November 16, 2020, at 10:45 a.m. to have this discussion about the Governor’s proposal to negotiate furloughs effective December 1, 2020 through June 30, 2024.

Successor Bargaining

Pursuant to Article XXX, Duration, of the 2017-2021 UHPA/BOR Unit 7 Agreement, it states that “Negotiations over a successor agreement shall begin no later than ninety (90) days prior to the February 1st of the Agreement’s terminal year.”  On October 28, 2020, the UH Vice President for Community Colleges Erika Lacro who will be UH’s Chief Negotiator for this upcoming successor bargaining sent a letter to UHPA requesting to commence negotiations over a successor UHPA/BOR Unit 7 Agreement.  The UHPA Negotiations Committee and the Employer are scheduled to meet on Monday, November 2, 2020, at 2:30 p.m.  

Retirement incentive

To date, there has been no formal response by the Employer on the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) negotiated between the UHPA Negotiations Committee and the UH Administration over the proposed retirement incentive for Faculty Members who retire between December 15, 2020 through June 30, 2021.  The MOU was transmitted by UH President David Lassner to the State’s Chief Negotiator Ryker Wada, Governor David Ige, and the State’s Attorney General on Friday, October 23, 2020.

Budget Update

Federal Monies:  CARES ACT

The State House Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness has a Sub Committee on COVID-19 CARES Funds this link will take you to the Sub Committee’s most recent publication.  The slide presentation includes all monies, current allocations as well as encumbered monies.  Page 10 of the slides indicated the monies allocated to the University of Hawai‘i and what those monies may be used for.  These monies coincide with the September, 2020 report by President Lassner to the Board of Regents of CARES money allocated to the University.

You can click here for a more detailed review of the CARES monies 

UH Budget

The next UH Budget update: Monday, Nov. 9, 2020

Upcoming UHPA meetings

  • Board of Directors Meeting, Nov. 7, 2020 – please communicate your concerns to your board prior to the meting

Reference Links

UHPA news and announcements for the period: 10/19-10/26/2020

Bargaining Update

Mid-term bargaining and proposed furloughs

On September 25, 2020 the State of Hawaii, Office of Collective Bargaining, through it’s Chief Negotiator Ryker Wada, requested that UHPA engage in mid-term bargaining and consider furlough savings to offset the State’s budgetary deficit of $2.1 billion in Fiscal Biennium 2019-2021.  Under the State’s plan, furloughs would be implemented effective December 1, 2020 through June 30, 2024, resulting in up to eight-six (86) days of directive leave without pay during this period – approximately two (2) days per month resulting in a 9.23% pay reduction.  

List of our concerns sent

On September 29, 2020 UHPA sent Chief Negotiator Wada a list of questions and concerns over their proposal to implement furloughs under their request to enter into mid-term bargaining.  The major issue of discussion was the fact that the Employer’s proposal under mid-term bargaining would extend beyond the terms of the Unit 7 Agreement in effect for the duration of July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2021.  The Employer’s proposal sought to implement furloughs until June 30, 2024, which would extend beyond the current Unit 7 Agreement and impact on the successor Unit 7 Agreement.

On October 2, 2020, Chief Negotiator Wada acknowledged receipt of UHPA’s September 29, 2020 response and requested that such conversations and explanations over UHPA’s concerns would be best addressed in a meeting between the parties.

On October 9, 2020, UHPA sent Chief Negotiator another set of questions and concerns over their proposal stating that more information needs to be provided by the Employer on the nature of the business to be discussed at these meetings.

UHPA is reviewing responses

On October 20, 2020, Chief Negotiator Wada responded back to UHPA’s questions and requested additional information.  The response is currently being reviewed by the UHPA Negotiations Committee to determine the next course of action.  A meeting of the UHPA Negotiations Committee is being planned for this week.

Retirement incentive update

As an update to UHPA Negotiations Committee Chairperson Karla Hayashi’s report dated October 5, 2020, after UHPA received UH’s counter proposal on October 5, 2020:

  • The UHPA submitted a counter on October 9, 2020.  
  • UH countered again on October 12, 2020.  
  • UHPA and UH tentatively agreed to the terms and conditions over a Faculty Retirement Incentive on October 20, 2020.  
  • On October 23, 2020, the UH submitted a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to the Governor, the Attorney General, and the Office of Collective Bargaining for their review and approval.  
  • The proposed Faculty Retirement Incentive is in the Employer’s court and UHPA is waiting for its approval.  

Budget Update

The Budget Document for FY 2020-2021 is SB 126 SD1, HD1, CD1

  • The University Allocation is on pages 36-38
  • The First and Second Quarter allocations have been dispersed to UH System
    • Each quarter allocation was reduced by a 10% restriction from Budget & Finance.
    • The restrictions and their impact were reported to the Board of Regents Committee on Budget and Finance, Oct 1, 2020. The Report begins on page 38.
    • FY20-21 UH System Operating Budget.  Campus report begins on page 13.

UH Budget Planning FY2021-2023

The Board of Regents passed the “Budget Policy Paper Framework for Fiscal Biennium 2021-23” at the Regents meeting held this past Thursday.  This paper will set the framework for the budget process for the University statewide.  The Paper begins on page 52.

Other news

Pay increase due in November: follow the details published on our website.

Upcoming UHPA meetings

  • Campus meetings: Please email Kathy Yamashita if you have not received your invitation. 
    • Monday 10/26 4pm: UH Maui College campus visit via Zoom
    • Tuesday 10/27 4pm, Honolulu Community College campus visit via Zoom
    • Thursday 10/29 3pm Kauai Community College campus visit via Zoom
  • Board of Directors Meeting, Nov. 7, 2020

Reference Links

Pay Increase Due in November

Negotiated 1.2% Retroactive Pay Increase Due November 20, 2020

In accordance with the Tentative Agreement over Article XXI, Salaries, of the UHPA/BOR Unit 7 Agreement, dated May 13, 2020, and the subsequent Legislature passage and Governor’s approval of Act 48, SLH 2020, the following negotiated pay raises are forthcoming:  

  1. Effective January 2, 2020 all Faculty Members shall have their base pay increased by 1.2%
  2. Effective January 1, 2021 all Faculty Members shall have their base pay increased by 1.2%

The State of Hawaii, Department of Budget and Finance, has released the legislative appropriations to the University of Hawaii for payment.  All Faculty Members in service before January 2, 2020 shall receive a retroactive pay increase of 1.2% of their base pay retroactive to January 2, 2020 in their November 20, 2020 paycheck.  All Faculty Members in service on January 1, 2021 shall receive a 1.2% pay increase to their base pay.

While this in no way signals or disregards that the University of Hawaii will be facing significant budgetary shortfalls and challenges in the near future, these negotiated pay increases were agreed upon by the Employer on August 3, 2017 and which the Legislature has already budgeted for its payment.

In Solidarity,

Christian Fern

UHPA Executive Director

Karla Hayashi

UHPA Negotiations Committee Chairperson

Update on UH Faculty Retirement incentives

UHPA Negotiations Committee Update On Proposed Retirement Incentive For UH Faculty

In a Letter dated August 27, 2020, University of Hawai‘i President David Lassner proposed to enter into negotiations with the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly (UHPA) concerning a retirement incentive to UH Faculty who are eligible for retirement or early retirement and who retire between December 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

The UHPA Negotiations Committee recognizes that this matter has significant interest to eligible UH Faculty and the committee members are encouraged by the Employer’s initial proposal. The UHPA Negotiations Committee members reviewed the Employer’s proposed offer and identified areas that required further clarification, as well as areas not viable to support such an endeavor.

On September 28, 2020, the UHPA Negotiations Committee submitted a counter proposal to the Employer’s August 27, 2020 proposal.  

The UHPA Negotiations Committee just received a response from the Employer on another counter proposal dated October 5, 2020.  The UHPA Negotiations Committee is reviewing the recent counter proposal and made this matter a priority.  We will keep the membership apprised of any new developments in the days and weeks ahead in hopes of reaching a mutually agreeable retirement incentive.

In Solidarity,

Karla Hayashi

UHPA Negotiations Committee Chairperson

UHPA Endorses Kai Kahele for Congressional District II

UHPA felt it was important to weigh in on this year’s Congressional District 2 Race for the upcoming general election because of the many needs in our community resulting from the pandemic that require ongoing federal support in Hawai‘i. After interviewing Senator Kai Kahele, we believe that he possesses the background and understanding of our University, and more importantly, the needs of our members, the UH faculty. As a UH alumnus, Kai will best represent our interests in Washington, D.C. We are pleased to endorse Kai for Congress!


Access Political Endorsement Committee (PEC) process and procedures, including candidate questions used to determine candidate endorsements.

This content is made available to UHPA Members only via our Google Drive files. If you’re not a member, signup is quick and easy via our online form.

In Memoriam: UHPA’s First Executive Director Jerome “Jerry” Comcowich

UHPA joins others in mourning the loss of Jerome “Jerry” Comcowich, a retired UH faculty member who was UHPA’s first executive director. Jerry became a founding member of UHPA in 1973 and served the union for decades as a board member and as delegate to National Education Association meetings.

Jerry was walking in a bike lane near his Enchanted Lake residence on the morning of September 3, when a driver of a pick-up truck struck him and two other parked vehicles. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition where he later passed away.

The loss of this healthy 80-year-old who enjoyed running 10 miles a week is tragic, but Jerry’s commitment to service and contributions to the community will not be forgotten.

“Everyone who has crossed our path over the years has had an important role in shaping what the UHPA is today,” said Christian Fern, UHPA executive director. “We’re proud to be beneficiaries of the work of people like Jerry.”

Jerry joined the UH as an assistant professor in the College of Education in 1969, serving as an academic advisor and developmental counselor. He later joined the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and was instrumental in planning the SOEST building. Jerry retired in 2009 from his tenured faculty position at SOEST’s International Center for Climate and Society.

While at the University, he took several leaves of absence to grow professionally and serve the community. In 1977, he was named special assistant to U.S. Sen. Spark Matsunaga, working in Washington, D.C. His primary areas of focus were higher education, transportation and labor. He also worked as a special assistant to U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, beginning in 1990, and focused on labor, education and foreign affairs legislation.
In 1994, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as a special assistant to Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education David Longanecker in the U.S. Department of Education. In that position, he advocated for student financial aid to ease the burden of debt from tuition for college graduates.

Jerry’s family has requested memorial gifts be directed to the Hawaii Food Bank. On behalf of all UHPA members, UHPA has made a contribution as a tribute to Jerry and in honor of his life and support to UHPA.

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.

Access Political Endorsement Committee (PEC) process and procedures, including candidate questions used to determine candidate endorsements.

This content is made available to UHPA Members only via our Google Drive files. If you’re not a member, signup is quick and easy via our online form.

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.