Representing Your Interests at the Legislature

UHPA Legislative Update as of 4/5/2021

Monday, April 5, 2021, will be day 42 of the legislative session and next Thursday, April 15, 2021 is the 48th day and second cross-over.  On that day, there will be only seven (7) legislative session days left until Sine Die on April 29, 2021.

UHPA has been working with legislators and lobbying on behalf of its membership in the new virtual world and environment as it has since last session when in March the State Capital was shut down to the public.  While it has been a challenge for everyone to adjust and pivot in the new normal, the challenges and constant attacks on Faculty at the legislature goes on unaffected and unaltered by the effects of COVID-19.

To date, UHPA has been successful in working with legislators and testifying on bills and resolutions that have negative impact and harmful consequences on Faculty and the institution they serve.  The following are a list of bills and resolutions that UHPA has been successful in challenging and/or changing:

Nevertheless, there are still bills and resolutions alive in the Legislature that UHPA is working hard to either change, modify, or defer in its current form as it will have negative impact and harmful consequences on our Faculty if enacted.  The following is a list of bills and a resolution that UHPA is actively working on with the Legislature:

While these bills and this resolution may not apply or impact your position, department, college, or unit, don’t ever think that it may not change tomorrow or in the near future.  That is why UHPA’s Endorsement Committee vigilantly vets and interviews all candidates who request political endorsements, because we need to make sure that we can count on these elected officials to listen, recognize, acknowledge, and respect the voice of the Faculty before enacting legislation. 


For a list of all the bills that UHPA is tracking, visit our bill tracking page along with other related resources located at our Legislative Action Center.

UHPA Defends Tenure at the Legislature

Legislative Bill to Eliminate Academic Tenure for Non-Instructional Faculty Thwarted 


A legislative bill that would have adversely impacted the quality of education at the University of Hawai‘i — and affect the ability to attract and retain high quality faculty — has been put on hold. UH faculty can now breathe a sigh of relief — for now.

SB 1328 proposed to eliminate academic tenure for all “non-instructional” faculty based on the premise that their primary duties and responsibilities do not involve instruction with a commitment to student achievement and success and that granting tenure for these positions requires a long-term commitment of public resources.

UHPA Requested to Prepare a Resolution on Academic Tenure

Over the past several weeks, the UHPA leadership has been engaged in a series of productive and respectful dialogue and conversations with Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, the Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.  Based on UHPA recommendations, at a committee hearing last Tuesday, Feb. 16,  Sen. Mercado Kim deferred the bill and sought UHPA’s assistance to draft a resolution for the 2022 legislative session. UHPA plans to work collaboratively with the UH administration to develop a resolution for the committee to consider.

In its testimony, UHPA noted tenure for eligible faculty has been clearly outlined in collective bargaining agreements between UHPA and the UH Board of Regents since its first contract in 1975 and the subject of tenure is a cornerstone of bargainable matters under Hawaii’s collective bargaining law, Chapter 89, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

All of the other testimonies from both tenured and non-tenured faculty alike strongly opposed the bill including the University of Hawai‘i administration.

Dynamic, Multi-faceted Role of Faculty

Faculty also presented strong, compelling, and eye-opening rationale and reasons opposing the bill. Currently, Faculty are divided into different classifications based on their primary functions and some are classified with an “I” designation for “instruction.” However, these designations do not adequately and accurately convey the multi-faceted roles of faculty. Even if faculty are branded as “R” for “researcher” or “S” for “specialist,” they are still actively engaged in the instruction and provide a wealth of services and support functions focused on student achievement and success. This underscores that designations assigned to faculty do not truly reflect the diverse professional roles, responsibilities, and work they perform for the academy and the students that they serve.   

For example, research faculty mentors graduate students in the field or in laboratories, and specialists develop lesson plans, mix lectures with activities, discussion, and practice and work with distressed students or those with disabilities to insure their success. In this sense, all faculty are involved with instruction and significantly contribute to student achievement and success.

Miriam Stark, a UH anthropology professor, cited the significant contributions of faculty at the UH Cancer Research Center, UH Economic Research Organization, Water Resources Research Center and College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources that do not fit neatly into the definition of instructional faculty but overall contribute to student achievement and success.

Faculty also noted their roles are dynamic and ever changing to accommodate the needs and priorities of the university.  This makes the amount of instruction and service to student achievement and success fluid.

Purpose of Tenure

It’s important to reiterate the purpose of tenure: academic freedom for faculty. This is just as important for faculty members engaged in research as it is for an instructional faculty member. For example, tenure ensures faculty can engage in controversial research and instruction with impunity.

Another Potentially Overreaching Bill

In addition to the bill on academic tenure, the Senate Higher Education Committee also heard another bill (SB 1394), which would require that 25% of the UH research faculty’s salary be paid with extramural funds. The bill proposed to make it a requirement for all new grants,

contracts, and agreements that begin on July l, 2021, would have to stipulate that these extramural funds would be used to pay for the research faculty’s salary.

The intent of this bill was also a way to address the state’s budget, but UHPA pointed out that in the aggregate, extramural funding sources already make up more than 25% of the research faculty salaries. This bill was deferred and UHPA will collaborate with the UH administration to provide a report on this data.

Legislative update on measures that matter

Legislative update February 12, 2021

Aloha, 

We are in the midst of the 2021 Legislative Session, actively monitoring and testifying on a multitude of measures that impact our membership.  Two bills in particular, SB1328 Relating to Academic Tenure at the University of Hawai‘i and SB1394 Relating to the University of Hawai‘i were particularly concerning and were introduced by Senator Donna Mercado Kim.

There is a Legislative Hearing taking place on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 3:05 PM in the Senate Higher Education Committee on both of these bills.  UHPA has been engaged in numerous discussions and conversations with Senator Kim and the UH Administration on SB1328 and SB1394.  I am pleased to report that UHPA has confirmed that both bills will be deferred in Committee, preferring the introduction of a Senate Resolution that would seek to address the issues concerning the Legislature.  

UHPAʻs goal all along was to ensure that these bills, as drafted, did not move forward.  The fact that these bills are being deferred is a positive sign and hopefully something that we can build upon moving forward.

Testimony will still be accepted on both bills.  UHPAʻs testimony will focus on the following:

SB1328

  • Recommend moving to a Senate Resolution to allow the stakeholders to address concerns raised by the Legislature 
  • Tenure (Articles X and XII) is a part of the UHPA-BOR Agreement and have been collectively bargained under Chapter 89, HRS, and is not provided via statutes.
  • Passage of such laws would violate the cornerstone of Hawaii’s collective bargaining law under Chapter 89, HRS
  • Article IV, outlines the the definition of teaching and outlines the responsibilities of faculty members UHPA represents (teaching, research and service)

SB1394

  • Recommend moving to a Senate Resolution to allow the stakeholders to address concerns raised by the Legislature 
  • The aggregate data indicates that the University of Hawaii is exceeding the 25% outlined in the bill
  • Article III, Letters of Hire which outlines and defines the terms and conditions of employment 

UHPA will continue to keep you informed of important legislative measures that impact the University of Hawaii and the faculty that UHPA represents.  Look to our Monday Report emails for any updates.

Mahalo for your kōkua and all of the work you do!

New Legislative Protocols

The State Legislature has instituted new protocols for the 2021 Legislative Session.  Starting with their offices are officially closed to the public.  All meetings, hearings, floor sessions will be conducted virtually.

All House and Senate Hearings can be easily located on our webpage, UHPA At The Legislature,  Hearings on Demand.  These hearings are broadcast via YouTube and show previously held hearings.

The Legislative calendar has been modified by one week, reducing recess days from thirteen to nine.

For full details of new protocols click on the link above.

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

2020 UHPA Legislative Agenda

Aloha,

December has arrived and it is time to prepare for the 2020 Legislative Session.  Your legislative team will now include the members of the UHPA Board of Director’s Political Endorsement Committee.  We are excited with the expansion of our legislative team.  The team prepared the Legislative Agenda for 2020 and presented it first at the October 19, 2019 Faculty Forum for their review and input. It then went before the Board of Directors at their November 2, 2019 BOD meeting and was approved for implementation.  Top priority is the Collective Bargaining appropriations Bill.  For full details please see link below.

As we start the first legislative newsletter for the 2020 session, we would like to provide you with a few resource links

Board of Regents Financial Reports Budget

UH Budget Documents

UHPA Bill Tracking

Legislative Update Newsletter Launches

Aloha UHPA Members,

Starting this week, UHPA will be sending out up-to-date notices as often as every Thursday about legislation, testimony and hearing notices that directly impacts faculty.  We’ll only publish articles about issues that affects you and we’ll explain why. On “slow weeks”, we won’t be sending anything out, so when you see an email with “Legislative Update”, you’ll know it’s worth your time.

Our seed list of subscribers are UHPA Board Members and UHPA Faculty Reps, but all UHPA members are welcome to subscribe, just email us and we’ll be happy to add you on the list.

For those that enjoy a good deep dive, you can always follow our bill tracker links and watch the same legislation that we’re watching.

We love hearing from UHPA members so don’t hesitate to hit reply on any issue and send us your questions and concerns.

Collective Bargaing Cost Items – ON IT

The House and Senate have introduced Bills to ensure that all cost items agreed upon will be included in the 2019 budget.  Both Bills have passed through their first committees.  We will keep you updated.

Higher Ed/WAM Joint Briefing Wed. Dec. 19, 2018

COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION
Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Chair
Senator Michelle N. Kidani, Vice Chair

 

COMMITTEE ON WAYS AND MEANS
Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz, Chair
Senator Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, Vice Chair

NOTICE OF INFORMATIONAL BRIEFING

DATE: Wednesday, December 19, 2018
TIME: 1:30 P.M.
PLACE: Conference Room 211

State Capitol

415 South Beretania Street

A G E N D A

The purpose of this informational briefing is to receive an update on the University of Hawai’i system.  Topics to be discussed will include, but are not limited to the following:

  • An overview of the university’s finances, including its base budget
  • Alternative budgetary models that the university has looked into and considered
  • Carrying capacity in relation to buildings and facilities and its effect on the university’s budget
  • Teaching capacity of tenured faculty
  • Cost reduction and revenue enhancement opportunities
  • Administrative positions and determining the appropriate ratio of administrative officials to student/faculty
  • Student tuition and enrollment
  • Update on the Hawai’i Promise Program

No public testimony will be accepted.

UHPA Endorses Jarrett Keohokalole, Senate District 24

UHPA believes Jarrett will be a strong Senator for UHPA, advocating on behalf of faculty.  Jarrett has demonstrated his knowledge of our issues as a member of the House of Representatives, representing House District 48.  Jarrett is a graduate of the UH William S. Richardson School of Law and focused his work on invasive species policy for DLNR.  He fully understands the need for grants to further the important work that UH provides Hawai‘i as well as obtaining and retaining the best and brightest faculty.  UHPA is pleased to endorse Jarrett Keohokalole for Senate District 24.