UHPA Seeks to Allow Legislature to Appropriate Salary Funds during a Special Legislative Session

UHPA filed a request that the Hawaii Labor Relations Board rule on whether the Legislature may appropriate funds for a collective bargaining agreement during a Special Legislative Session. Over the course of this month, it became clear that there were issues being raised by the Governor’s office and the Speaker of the House that the collective bargaining law, Chapter 89, might not allow an appropriation be made during a Special Legislative Session. To be clear neither the Governor’s Chief of Staff nor Speaker Saiki would reveal their specific concerns to UHPA Executive Director Hanselman. UHPA was informed that the Attorney General was being asked to comment on some technical issues. President Lassner was also not informed of these matters by the Governor’s office.

This lack of candor is antithetical to the practice of good faith negotiations.

UHPA believes that there is no prohibition to the funding of a collective bargaining agreement during a Special Legislative Session. UHPA seeks to have this issue resolved should a Special Session be conveyed this year. There are no decisions previously issued on this matter.

UHPA wants faculty members to receive their salary increases as quickly as possible. Delaying an appropriations until 2018 has a negative impact on the pocketbooks of faculty and retroactive lump payments can have tax consequences.

You will be informed of the outcome of this request for a ruling from the Hawaii Labor Relations Board. Time is critical with a Special Legislative Session tentatively scheduled to begin next week.

 

GM 60 Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board

The Senate Committee on Labor
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Room 225
2:45 p.m.

RE: GM 60  Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board

Attention: Chair Jill Tokuda, Vice Chair Kalani English and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) supports the confirmation of Marcus Oshiro, as the Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board.

Representative Oshiro brings an appreciation for the role that collective bargaining has played in meeting the needs of public employers while addressing the necessary employee protections and compensation needed to attract and maintain a skilled workforce throughout the state. He has demonstrated he possesses insight and creativity in meeting the changing nature of employer and employee relations as the political and economics of public environment undergo significant stress.

His time as a member of the Hawai‘i State Legislature provides him with a unique understanding of the Statutes that govern the process and procedures involved in Chapter 89.  

UHPA urges the Committee to confirm Marcus Oshiro as the Chairperson and Representative of the Public of the Hawai‘i Labor Relations Board.

 

Respectfully Submitted,
Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

Aulani Resort returns! Save the date: Nov 3-5 (2017) for the 4th annual UHPA Offer

What has now become an annual event repeats this year and it’s your chance to join UHPA members enjoy an exclusive offer of discounted rates at the Aulani Resort below published kama’aina rates.

Keep your calendars clear and look to your inbox for further announcements.

 

Register now for free Lunch and Learn financial wellness seminar

UHPA,  via our partners at HomeStreet Bank, is excited to present “Financial Wellness”  on Wednesday October 18 at noon!  Light lunch and refreshments will be provided courtesy HomeStreet Bank. Please note this is for members of UHPA only and if you’re not yet a member you can easily sign up online right now.

Why should you attend?

If you are a homeowner or aspire to own a home this seminar is for you. Learn about first time-home buying, the current market and great tips and techniques to ensure you taking advantage of historically low rates.

If you’re buying or refinancing, don’t miss this!

As a UHPA member you are eligible to receive thousands of dollars in credits towards your closing costs on a purchase or refinance. In addition if you are purchasing a home and use a realtor in the program they also credit you an additional amount toward your closing costs.

What you will learn:

  • Basics of purchasing a home
  • Types of mortgages available to you
  • Preparing financially
  • How to finance your home purchase
  • Special programs available to first time home buyers

Seating is limited! Reserve your seat and lunch now for October 19, Noon

We only have a finite number of seats and we anticipate this seminar will be very popular. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis and must be reserved in advance so if you plan on attending please do so immediately.

 

Can’t make this class? there are other choices:

Our friends at HomeStreet Bank are holding free classes at various locations throughout Oahu. Attendance is FREE for UHPA members and refreshments will be served.

HomeStreet Bank says:

“Considering buying a home? Attend an upcoming seminar and learn how to build a budget,
prepare your credit, and get a comprehensive overview of the homebuying process from
a noncommissioned Affinity loan officer and other real estate professionals before you start
looking for a home.”

Reserve your seat via the links below:

September 2017 – Kapiolani

October 2017 – Kapiolani

Spend a day at Wet’n’Wild park for less than kama’aina rates

UHPA welcomes our new benefits partner with a fabulous deal that members can enjoy year-round. Get discounted tickets (below kama’aina rates!) from Wet’n’Wild when you buy online.

Hawaii Foodbank Hunger Walk — September 16, 2017

The 13th Annual Hawaii Foodbank’s Hunger Walk will take place on Saturday, September 16, 2017 at the Waterfront Plaza. Registration is at 8 a.m. and the Walk begins at 9 a.m. Click here for information on how to participate.

Please spread the word!

New Contract to be signed on August 3, 2017

The  new contract between UHPA, the University of Hawaii, and the Governor will be signed on August 3. This will formalize the tentative agreements on all language and EUTF contributions for faculty members. The salary increases now must be requested by the Governor to the Legislature for approval.

There are two possible avenues for the funding to be approved:

Special session

If there is a special legislative session convened it is possible for the legislature to approve the salary increases so that the funds would be immediately appropriated. Both the Senate and House leadership must agree to advance an appropriations bill for BU7.

2018 Legislature

Should a special session not be held or no action on salary appropriations is taken then the Governor’s budget to the 2018 Legislature must request funding for BU7. It then goes through the legislative process for approval. This could result in receipt of retroactive pay increases at some point during 2018.

Contract language is already in effect

In the meantime as of July 1, 2017 all contract language and the employers’ EUTF contribution is in full effect. You can review the PDFs which make up the tentative agreement and once the contract is signed we will update our website.

As always, please contact UHPA for assistance as there are many language changes that may affect your situation.

Time to Restore Fairness to Public-Sector Employees

(Note: this op-ed originally appeared in the Star Advertiser on 7/6/2017 “Bill needed to protect UH faculty from abuse by employer“)

University of Hawaii faculty members do not wake up each morning thinking about how they can purposely give their students a bad learning experience or intentionally misuse research funds that have been entrusted to them. But the state of Hawaii and UH administrators, who collectively make up the employers of the faculty, seem to believe this.

Even our state’s chief executive, Gov. David Ige, is behind this. That’s why he announced Senate Bill 410 is one of the legislative bills he intends to veto by the July 11 deadline. In reality, the intention of this bill is simply to underscore the value of collective bargaining in Hawaii and to strengthen relationships in the workplace.

During this past legislative session, James Nishimoto, chief negotiator of the Governor’s Office of Collective Bargaining, stirred the pot by stating management would lose control of its employees. In his written testimony against SB 410, he reveals his unfounded fears: “ … the amendatory language might be interpreted by employees as empowering them to refuse to perform assigned duties and responsibilities unless such duties have been mutually agreed to as a term and condition of employment … ”

This is the kind of condescending degradation UH faculty members have to endure. All we ask for is mutual respect, good-faith bargaining, and employers to demonstrate integrity by honoring terms and conditions they have promised. Chapter 89 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes was put into effect nearly 40 years ago to prevent abuse of power by government employers.

SB 410 is intended to keep employers accountable and to keep Hawaii from reverting back to an era in which employee abuse was rampant and acceptable.

Over the years, Hawaii has seen increased attempts by employers attempting to find loopholes in Chapter 89. They undermine both the spirit and letter of the law by redefining terms to their advantage. The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) has had to defend a number of faculty in hearings before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board and through costly litigation.

Many may not realize the challenges faculty members face. One professor gave up his flourishing research career at a mainland university when he was recruited to start a similar medical research program at UH-Manoa. He was told in writing he would have the equipment and other resources for his research in Hawaii.

After the professor and family relocated to the islands, a new UH administrator whimsically changed her mind and told this professor he would not get his equipment after all. UH administrators backed this decision, claiming the letter of hire the professor received was not covered by the collective bargaining process, so the promise made to him was not binding.

These are insulting, career-disrupting actions, and detract from our core purpose as faculty: instructing students and conducting groundbreaking research to benefit our state.

UH administrators are seemingly authorized to make up their own rules with immunity. They may get a slap on the hands before being transferred to another high-paying position. UH faculty members do not have that kind of luxury, nor do we ask for that. That is why SB 410 is so critical. We hope Gov. David Ige upholds the decision by legislators to support SB 410 so that UH faculty can look forward to waking up each morning and going to work in a fair environment.

SB 410 Designed to Raise the Bar of Accountability

By UHPA bargaining team: UHPA President Lynne Wilkens, UHPA Bargaining Team Chair Karla Hayashi, Amy Nishimura, Glenn Teves and Matthew Tuthill

Who’s accountable?

When the University of Hawai‘i (UH) leadership gets itself in deep kimchee and manages to grab the headlines, alumni and others cringe. It’s the same pattern: legislators start to ask questions and restrict funding that unfortunately affects programs, faculty and, most importantly, students and research that benefits our state.

Do we cry afoul? No. Does anyone demand heads roll? No. There is no accountability. Instead the issues are quietly swept under the rug. UH administrators are deftly shifted to another comparable position and salary within the UH system. The back-up plan often is to hire yet another chancellor to further inflate the University of Hawaii’s administrative payroll.

Has anyone wondered how UH administrators fare as employers?

The UH administrators that have difficulty managing programs and facilities are the same ones who make up their own rules to govern faculty. These are the faculty that teach our students and collectively bring in more than $350 million in non-state funding to conduct research each year.

There’s always another side to the story. SB 410 has a distinct purpose. It was designed to raise the bar of accountability on employers and improve relationships in the workplace. Framing SB 410 as an uprising of unions is a way to divert attention away from these facts.

For University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA), we know there are many in the community who empathize with the dilemma we face. Although we have joined our brothers and sisters in the other public-sector unions, most legislators and others are familiar with the challenges we face on the 10 UH campuses statewide.

While it easy to promote fear-mongering that SB 410 will somehow “tip the balance” in favor of unions and give them unprecedented power that will “interfere” with relationships between management and employees, we urge those in the Governor’s office to think carefully and do their homework.

We can point to numerous cases of erosion of legitimate faculty rights.

A recent case involved a faculty renowned for his breakthrough medical research, who was recruited from another university with the promise of certain technical equipment to build a similar program at the University of Hawaii. This was spelled out in his letter of hire. After relocating and moving his family here, the UH changed its mind and argued a letter of hire was not included in the collective bargaining process. In other words, what was promised in the letter to him didn’t count. Talk about hair-raising. Insane. Not acceptable. It’s time to put aloha back in the workplace.

Defend mediocrity or improve higher education?

Who Governor David Ige hires, and who he chooses to discipline is strictly his prerogative. It is not our place to tell him how to run his state departments. However, if he vetoes SB 410, it will be a clear indication he defends mediocrity in our state — hardly the quality we want in a leader. SB 410 will allow UHPA faculty to continue to provide quality higher education, research, and community service to the people of Hawai‘i.

Approved! The Contract is Ratified by 95.7% of BU07 Voting Members

What now?

  • All language within the newly-ratified collective bargaining agreement will be in effect as of July 1, 2017.
    • The current contract remains in effect until June 30, 2017, 11:59 pm.
  • UHPA was able to ensure that increased employer contributions for EUTF will be funded as of July 1, 2017.

When can we expect to get the raise(s) in the agreement?

Since the Legislature is not in session there are two possible routes to funding:

  • A special Legislative session is called and the Legislature agrees to place funding of the contract on its agenda. It then votes to fund the contract.
  • If there is no funding through a special Legislative session, then in December 2017 the costs for the contract are placed in the Governor’s Budget proposal to the Legislature.
  • If the Legislature approves the funding, salary increases will be paid retroactively.

What’s next?

  • UHPA is in regular contact with legislators regarding a potential special session.
  • Regardless of what happens legislatively, we are moving forward to implement all new language provisions (other than salary adjustments) in the collective bargaining agreement.
  • The new contract will be posted online after it is formally signed.