Joint Statement Issued On Workload Policies

Joint Statement of the University of Hawai‘i (UH) and the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly (UHPA) on systemwide guidance for the promulgation of workload policies and workload assignments.

February 22, 2022

As a result of a UHPA Class Grievance filed on April 30, 2019 challenging the process used to make revisions to a workload policy by a particular college at one of the UH’s four (4) year campus, the Vice President of Academic Strategy at the time wanted to make sure no similar violations occurred across the UH System. Thus, a memorandum was issued on September 26, 2019 that suspended all proposed revisions and updates to workload policies at all four (4) year campuses and that campuses were advised to maintain “status quo” by utilizing their current workload policies in effect.  

During the interim, the UH and UHPA entered into lengthy discussions over the specific workload policy in question as well as the broader issues of workload policies at all four (4) year campuses. The focus of these discussions surrounded the parties’ intent and purpose in negotiating and agreeing to the language covered under Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload. The outcome of these conversations led to an agreement over workload policy guidelines that adhere to the intent of Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload. Furthermore, these guidelines should be used for future revisions for all four (4) year campuses’ departments, colleges, units, or programs in the revisions to or development of workload policies.

This joint statement put forth by UH and UHPA is to provide the University of Hawai‘i community at all four (4) year campuses with guidance for how to move forward with any revisions or development of workload policies.

As a matter of definition, UHPA and UH agree to the following:

Workload Policy

Workload expectations are outlined in RP 9.214 and defined as 24-credit hours per academic year or the equivalent for all four (4) year UH campuses including UH Manoa (UHM), UH Hilo (UHH) and UH West O’ahu (UHWO). The current policy acknowledges that a faculty workload constitutes a combination of teaching, service, and research depending upon the mission of the campus. Each campus has substantial variations in the level of detail regarding how this general policy is operationalized. Some give details on equivalencies. For example, UHM’s College of Engineering mentions an absolute instructional count of 2/1; JABSOM mentions that research time beyond that normally allocated needs to be externally funded; UHM Computer Science provides explicit calculations of equivalencies; UHH is silent on matters of external funding, gives some equivalencies, and quotes the contract on overall distribution; UHWO focuses primarily on equivalencies with an FAQ that addresses contract matters.

In policy, equivalencies are discussed because not all faculty workload can be framed in terms of traditional instruction. However, the policy provides the scope of workload – a combination of teaching, scholarship, and service.

Workload Assignment

the workload assignment is the distribution of necessary work for the operation of the department as identified by the Chair in consultation with the faculty pursuant to the contractual requirements set forth under Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload, paragraph B.3 of the Unit 7 Agreement. The teaching workload assignment can vary depending upon an individual faculty member’s research productivity, service obligations, and campus or college. Additional duties beyond teaching can be subtracted as an equivalency from the 24-credit hour per academic year teaching requirement in policy for each of UH’s 4-year campuses.

Workload Equivalency

Each campus has authority to define and develop teaching equivalencies aligned with research and service requirements suitable for their campus mission and purpose and in consultation with the faculty. Thus, credit hours are used as a mechanism for quantifying the less quantifiable work faculty complete – teaching outside the traditional 3-credit instructional class, research and service. Any discussion of workload equivalencies must be held in conjunction with the faculty in the context of existing policy and subject to campus oversight.

Such Workload assignments should be produced using the following guidelines:

  1. All workload policies governing faculty must adhere to all contractual requirements under Article IV, Faculty Professional Responsibilities and Workload, as well as, the requirements under RP 9.214. Article IV, B.3, specifically references RP 9.214 and its application in determining a faculty member’s instructional workload at each of UH’s 4 -year campuses as 24 semester credit hours per academic year.
  2. While the overall workload is set by policy and each faculty member’s workload assignment shall be determined in accordance with Article IV of the Unit 7 Agreement, the workload shall be managed within each department/division by the Department/Academic Chair. The Chair is determined by the procedures covered under Article XXIII, Appointment, Duties and Compensation for Academic Chairs. 
  3. The Department/Academic Chair has the contractual authority and primary responsibility in making the determination over workload assignments in consultation with the affected faculty pursuant to Article IV of the Unit 7 Agreement.
  4. Deans and Directors are responsible for reviewing all workload assignments to ensure that the operational needs of their School/College are being met. If not, Deans and Directors have the authority and responsibility to have the Department/Academic Chair address any specific issues identified.
  5. All Department/Division workload assignments and equivalencies are to be determined and developed by the respective Department/Division faculty. Prior to adoption, workload assignments and equivalencies are to be reviewed both at the School/College level by Deans/Directors and/or at the Campus level by Provost/Vice-Chancellors to ensure they meet operational needs. 
  6. Deans and Directors shall work with the respective Department/ Academic Chair to address any specific issues/concerns related to any individual faculty member’s workload assignment.
  7. The balance between research, service, and other professional components and duties cannot and shall not be defined by any systemwide standard or metric since they are unique to each discipline within each department/division. All parties acknowledge that the variable missions of each 4-year campus means that there are different considerations for teaching and research. Additionally, it is acknowledged that Community Colleges do not have a research requirement.
  8. It is agreed and recognized that Deans and Directors shall not use workload assignments to monitor and evaluate faculty performance since workload assignments are designed to be solely managed within the department by faculty themselves. However, Deans and Directors have the authority and responsibility to work with the respective Department/Academic Chair to address any performance issues identified. Faculty performance is subject to review through existing review processes and faculty must be able to demonstrate they meet the 24-credit hour per academic year workload established in policy in workload assignment.
  9. As described in RP 9.214, “Teaching remains the most important duty of its faculty.” RP 9.214 offers 24- credit hours per academic year as the standard 4-year campus’ instructional workload for full-time instructional faculty. Under RP 9.214 and Article IV of the Unit 7 Agreement, equivalencies, including but not limited to, teaching, research, specialized educational services, and community services are all considered and calculated within the context of this credit hour framework. We agree that the starting point for instructional workload is the 24-credit hour calculation. We agree that how additional equivalencies are calculated will vary by campus, college, and unit. Each campus determines the instructional time for its faculty and so the determination is not inflexible. However, concerns may be raised or may become an issue if a faculty member’s instructional workload is reduced to zero given the importance of teaching to the University system.

New UH Telework Policy Published

UHPA & UH Reach Agreement 

UH and the UHPA Negotiations Team have reached an agreement on a new Telework Policy that will go into effect on January 3, 2022 and runs through June 30, 2023.  The existing COVID-19 Voluntary Telework Policy will be expiring on December 31, 2021.  

Similar to What We Have Today

The new Telework Policy will essentially maintain the current requirements and exemptions for Faculty from: 1) exemption from the submission of work plans; 2) the completion of Online Leave Entry depending on job; and 3) the completion of WFH/Telework Form depending on job.  Please follow this link to UH Office of Human Resources  for details.  If you are currently teleworking under the COVID-19 Voluntary Telework Policy you will need to submit a new request pursuant to this policy if you are intending to telework from January 3, 2022.

A Viable Option to Minimize Risk

The new Telework Policy is intended to provide the UH with a viable alternative work option that they may utilize to improve program effectiveness and employee productivity, as well as, improve morale; reduce traffic congestion; and to effectively continue operations in times of an emergency and/or natural disasters.  While we all recognize that we are still in the COVID-19 pandemic, telework also provides a viable alternative work option for employees to maintain social distance between themselves and others in hopes of minimizing the risks of exposure to infections or illness.

The Opportunity For Faculty To Participate In Telework Is Still A Management Prerogative

However, the policy encourages the campuses to approve any telework request where: 1) job functions are suitable to be performed remotely; 2) the employee can be and demonstrates they are as functional and productive as when they are in the workplace and records are kept to document this; and 3) telework is consistent with the Universityʻs strategic direction and vision.

Faculty interested in participating in telework should consult their Department Chair or respective Dean, Director or Supervisor.

Here We Go Again On Tenure Battles

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
— Winston Churchill

Permitted Interaction Group (PIG) or Wild Pig

On Friday, September 10, 2021, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents posted their agenda and meeting materials for the September 16, 2021 meeting.  Included on the agenda was the report of the Tenure PIG.  Based on the February 18, 2021 BOR meeting, the Tenure PIGʻs purpose and scope was to review and investigate the issue of tenure in areas including the history and purpose of tenure at IHEs, particularly regarding the University of Hawai‘i (UH); the evolution of, and current views and developments on, tenure at institutions outside of UH; and the current process, criteria, and decision making on tenure at UH.  We question Tenure PIG Chair Ben Kudo whether the report submitted by the Tenure PIG meets the purpose and scope of its original intention.  Nevertheless, the following is UHPAʻs critique of the proposed changes to UH Regents Policy RP 9.213.

Destroying the basic tenets of tenure and academic freedom

On October 16, 1981, almost 40 years ago, the University of Hawai‘i Board of Regents unilaterally adopted a policy entitled, Evaluation of Board of Regents Appointees, otherwise known today as RP 9.213, Evaluation of Board or Regents Appointees. This caused the UHPA to file a prohibited practice complaint (PPC) with Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) alleging violation of Chapter 89, HRS, more specifically subsections §89-13 (a)(1), (2), (3), (5), and (8).  UHPA challenged the policy on the basis that it implemented a post-tenure review system, which, in effect, modified or eliminated the tenure rights of faculty members as set forth in the Unit 7 agreement that former UHPA Executive Director JN Musto proclaimed as “…aimed at destroying the basic tenets of tenure and academic freedom.”

Disguised as an assessment tool and not a rating instrument

The UH President at that time, Dr. Fujio Matsuda, stated that the policy would allow the administration to:

  1. Provide assurances to the University and its constituents that professional staff resources and particular areas of expertise are being used to the best advantage;
  2. Provide for the systematic recognition of excellence and develop incentives for superior performance, and
  3. Provide means for the improvement of performance in furtherance of the Universityʻs mission.

Dr. Matsuda also proclaimed that the proposed policy would not be a rating instrument per se, but an assessment tool to indicate strengths and weaknesses in an employeeʻs work. However, HLRB did not buy this argument. 

HLRB rules faculty evaluations are negotiable

HLRB Decision 199 specifically noted that “While we agree with the BOR that it may implement its evaluation procedures, we are not convinced that the impact of an “unsatisfactory” rating in and of itself would not affect working conditions to a degree so as to constitute a negotiable matter.” 

UH was required to negotiate with UHPA over the implementation of its desired five-year evaluation policy.  During the negotiations process, UHPA maintained its original position that while it did not disagree with the administration’s right to discipline tenured faculty members or to remove faculty members if they fail to perform their duties, the burden to show such failure solely rests with the administration and that other faculty peers should not be involved in the review process.  Furthermore, that it should not be considered a tenure review process or a reapplication of tenure since there should be an automatic presumption that a faculty member has met all the duties, responsibilities, requirements, and performance of a tenured faculty.

The UH administration and the UHPA essentially agreed a tenured faculty memberʻs five-year review will be an evaluation between the tenured faculty member and the respective Department Chair.  If itʻs deemed “satisfactory” by the Department Chair, a memo is sent to the Dean/Director for filing.  If itʻs deemed “unsatisfactory” by the Department Chair, the Department Chair and the tenured faculty member would develop a Performance Development Plan (PDP) that is then given to the Dean/Director.  In most situations, the PDP satisfactorily resolves the Department Chairs concerns and thereafter a memo is sent to the Dean/Director for filing.  In those unusual situations in which the PDP is unsuccessful, a memo is sent to the Dean/Director by the Chair depicting that the PDP hasnʻt met its desired outcome in addressing the tenured Faculty memberʻs performance concerns.  Thereafter, the five-year review process is closed and management can begin the process under the Unit 7 Agreement to begin taking appropriate administrative actions, including termination of a tenured faculty memberʻs appointment, for failure to meet the performance requirements of the position.

The five-year review has worked just fine

For the past 40 years, the five-year review under RP 9.213, Evaluation of Board or Regents Appointees has met its desired purpose and intent.  It provided the avenue that Dr. Matsuda was seeking through the negotiated process between the UH administration and UHPA.  

History will attempt to repeat itself

While every single historical moment is distinctly different from the past, if we do not learn from our mistakes, we risk the chances of repeating it.  Four decades later, we have a different political, social, and leadership climate.  Unfortunately, there are a few individuals interested in revisiting RP 9.213, Evaluation of Board or Regents Appointees to again bring into the conversation the ability for management to use it as a rating tool and to take disciplinary action against those tenured faculty members who they believe are not meeting the performance requirements of the position.  UHPA believes that this is an unnecessary and ill-advised tactic since we have already gone down this road and have already developed a pathway forward for the UH administration to follow.  Whether this is being driven by undue political interference, lack of knowledge or understanding, or just pure hubris, it is definitely a path that will only lead to confusion and uncertainty.  There is already a system in place that was developed through negotiations between the UH administration and UHPA that has worked for over four decades.  Is all this necessary?

Regent Jan Sullivan Attacks Academic Freedom

Academic Tenure is Essential to Preserving Academic Freedom

Freezing Tenure? Faculty Must Keep Their Guard Up in Contract Negotiations

With the current contract between the University of Hawai‘i and the UHPA Faculty coming to a close at the end of June 2021, negotiations for a successor agreement are continuing. During this economically challenging time, we should brace ourselves for difficult negotiations, with Employer proposals that seek to threaten the very core of academic life.

The UH Board of Regents meeting held on Thursday, Jan. 7, may be an indication of what’s in store for the future — unless UHPA Faculty members remain vigilant and take proactive measures to intervene.

In a discussion of the actions UH has undertaken to address the state’s budget deficit, University of Hawai‘i Regent Jan Naoe Sullivan said “freezing tenure” should be considered. She told UH President David Lassner that she believes the collective bargaining agreement has been a hindrance in the past and that the current economic climate presented an opportunity to introduce the concept of suspension of tenure that she proclaimed other universities have followed. (Sullivan has brought up similar challenges to the concept of tenure several years back, but that proposal was justifiably shot down.)

A Brazen Attack – Biting The Hand That Powers Your Company

This ongoing, brazen attack on the fundamental principle of academic life was being live streamed statewide and immediately set off a flurry of text and email messages among UH Faculty. Some Faculty were aghast that Sullivan, chief operating officer of Oceanit — which relies heavily on the UH for research to further her company’s business interests — apparently does not understand, recognize nor appreciate the value of a university system. We can only speculate why Sullivan seems hell-bent on insisting tenure be frozen before her term as a Regent ends this year and Gov. David Ige appoints a successor to her seat.

A Lone Voice

Fortunately, there were strong indications Sullivan was once again a lone voice, an outlier among the Board of Regents on this issue. UH BOR Chair Ben Kudo, attempting to appeal to her legal mind, delicately reasoned with her that tenure can only be questioned if a faculty member commits acts that violate the law or contract. Lassner suavely appeared to acquiesce, pointing out tenure suspensions have only been applied at small, private colleges, but also disturbingly suggested perhaps a “targeted” approach to tenure suspensions at the UH. The other Regents remained noticeably silent, perhaps because they understand, recognize, and appreciate the value of tenure and did not wish to embarrass her or themselves.

Let’s work with, not against each other

We hope these kinds of theatrics in the public eye do not represent the sentiment of the entire Board of Regents. Drama like this has no place in negotiations at a time when the state’s dire situation requires all us to work together — rather than against each other. These ill-conceived notions breed distrust and suspicion. They become distractions to moving us forward to meaningful and respectful discussions. We can and must do better when each of us at the table shares the same goals and aspirations for the University of Hawai‘i and appreciates how much higher education and research contribute to our community and our State.

 

 

Image credit:

DRAWING OF PEOPLE WHO CUT DOWN THE BRANCH ON WHICH THEY SIT is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Image has been resized or cropped from original along with minor text changes.

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.  

 

UHPA Prevails in Obtaining Revised Contract Renewal Letters for Probationary Faculty

UHPA filed a class grievance regarding the failure to properly inform probationary faculty of the contract renewal recommendations by the DPC and Department/Division chair by December 20, 2018 as provided by the collective bargaining agreement. This information can be critical to any faculty member who may be subject to non-renewal or has performance deficits that may raise concerns with a Dean or Vice Chancellor. The December date enables a probationary faculty member to determine what options may guide their future employment and ability to remain at the University of Hawaii.

Such defects in the process will be corrected for the 2019-2020 academic year. As a remedy
Faculty members who were improperly denied a contract renewal will be awarded a contract renewal. Faculty members who were renewed and received improper letters will be sent corrected letters which affirm their contract renewals.

UH President Now Grants Tenure and Promotion

The UH Board of Regents amended RP 9.201 to give authority to the UH President to grant Tenure and Promotion.  In the past it was the responsibility of the Board of Regents.

New Faculty Rights! Your Letter of Hire Enforceable through the Collective Bargaining Agreement

On January 24, 2017 UHPA and UH concluded a Memorandum of Understanding on Letters of Hire. This was 16 months in the making and provides that items that are bargainable contained within a letter of hire can be enforced through the grievance procedure, including arbitration.

Key Provisions

  • All Unit 7 members must receive a written letter of hire.
  • Letters of Hire shall contain all terms and conditions of employment offered and accepted by the faculty member. No undocumented promise is enforceable.
  • All documents relating to the terms of hire shall be provided and attached to the letter of hire.
  • UHPA shall receive all letters of hire and may grieve violations of the collective bargaining agreement.
  • UH must consult with UHPA on hiring policies and procedures.

Implementation

  • UHPA and the UH administration will be discussing templates that create clarity and consistency in letters of hire based on the respective campus needs. UH Manoa, due to the number of hires and complexity of issues, will be reviewed first.
  • As faculty members are engaged in hiring committees the collective bargaining agreement and the MOU on Letters of Hire should be given to potential new employees.

Always contact UHPA if you ever have questions or issues with your Letter of Hire.

Letters of Hire Actually Mean Something Now and the Promise of an MRI is Achieved

Dr. Bennett wins!

Dr. Kevin Bennett, whose fight to enforce his letter of hire included a grievance, an HLRB case, an agency appeal to Circuit Court, and the possibility of a new lawsuit in Circuit Court, has resulted in a robust settlement. The University will provide the MRI System and a functional laboratory that will allow the Dr. Bennett to continue his research and expand that which can occur in Hawaii.

Dispute over Letter of Hire promises

Dr. Bennetts was recruited to the University of Hawaii due to his work on early diagnosis of kidney disorders and his ability to establish and operate an MRI center that would enhance the work of other faculty members and allow his research to expand. Arriving in 2013 and believing that the University would provide the necessary equipment and support as agreed to in a letter of hire, Dr. Bennett proceeded to work toward the procurement of the MRI. While there were problems obtaining the original equipment, an alternative MRI was identified and the procurement process was proceeding. In Fall 2015, Dr.Bennett was informed by the Interim Dean of Natural Science that the equipment would not be purchased. The University contended that the letter of hire was not binding and could be unilaterally altered.

Dispute resolved by Dr. Bennett’s resolve

On January 24, a settlement was reached between Dr. Bennett, the University, and UHPA that ends the dispute and results in the necessary support for Dr. Bennett in advancing his work.

In addition to Dr. Bennett prevailing in his specific case, UHPA and UH have agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding on Letters of Hire. These two settlements could not have been achieved without the commitment of Dr. Bennett and the UHPA Board of Directors to hold firm in their convictions that the University must honor its commitments to faculty members.