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Whatever Happened to Respect and Acting in Good Faith?

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) takes umbrage at Board of Regents Chair Ben Kudo’s resolution that would authorize the UH administration “to utilize whatever available means it has to reduce the operating costs and expenses of the University, including but not limited to, reduction-in-force, furloughs, retrenchment, freeze or reduction in remuneration, etc.” to address the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Thursday, July 16, Board of Regents are expected to vote to adopt the resolution and approve an accompanying letter urging Gov. David Ige to negotiate with UHPA to defer the scheduled pay increases and adjustments in our contract — which have already been approved and budgeted — until the State is in a better economic condition. Click here to see board resolution 20-03 and proposed letter to the Governor.

Many faculty members have understandably expressed their outrage at this notion to UHPA, and we will be submitting strongly-worded testimony that reflects our position. I urge you to join me in submitting written testimony and attend the meeting to have a strong, collective voice.

Chair Kudo: Where Have You  Been?

Throughout the pandemic, UHPA and UH administration have worked tirelessly together to develop solutions to carry on the mission of the University of Hawai‘i at all 10 campuses statewide. We successfully transitioned to online learning and helped ensure hundreds were able to graduate. Chair Kudo and the Board of Regents were noticeably absent in contributing solutions.

There have been ample opportunities for Chair Kudo to express his concerns or raise any reservations about the salary increases or suggest a deferral.

Ignoring Legislative Processes

Chair Kudo circumvents the legislative process and ignores the fact that Senate Bill 785 passed. At no time during this year’s legislative session did Chair Kudo or any of the other members of the Board of Regents testify at the Legislature against the funding of these negotiated pay raises. He also fails to acknowledge that the Legislature appropriated funds for the salary increases while still managing to balance the budget. 

Going Against the Governor’s Intentions

His resolution also second-guesses the Governor, who clearly supported Senate Bill 785. The resolution is a humiliating slap in the face of the Governor. It is important to underscore that the Governor supported the funding of UHPA’s contract pay raises inclusive of the 1.2% increase on January 2, 2020 and the 2% increase on July 1, 2020 during the current pandemic.

Demanding a Plan is Premature

Despite all of these opportunities, he remained silent — until now. He is clearly out of touch with the Governor, legislature, and UH administration. His resolution comes out of the blue, bypassing the public decision-making process. His edict suddenly proclaims there is an “emergency” that demands a short- and long-term plan by next month. With the uncertainties created by the pandemic, creating a long-term plan now is a premature, irresponsible, and an unrealistic request.

Virtual Board of Regents Meeting

It’s not too late to intervene and stop the resolution from moving forward. The Board of Regents meeting will be held this Thursday, July 16, at 9 am via Zoom. You can access the livestream at www.hawaii.edu/bor.

Be Heard: Submit Your Testimony

Please submit your written testimony prior to 11:59pm Tuesday July 14 on the Board of Regent’s website through the testimony link provided on the Meeting Agendas, Minutes and Materials page. The July 16, Agenda says the following regarding public comment:

All written testimony on agenda items received after posting of this agenda and up to 24 hours in advance of the meeting will be distributed to the board. Late testimony on agenda items will be distributed to the board within 24 hours of receipt. Written testimony may be submitted via the board’s website through the testimony link provided on the Meeting Agendas, Minutes and Materials page. Testimony may also be submitted via email at bor.testimony@hawaii.edu, U.S.mail, or facsimile at (808) 956-5156. All written testimony submitted are public documents. Therefore, any testimony that is submitted for use in the public meeting process is public information and will be posted on the board’s website. 

Those wishing to provide oral testimony for the virtual meeting may register here. Given constraints with the online format of our meetings, individuals wishing to orally testify must register no later than 8:00 a.m. on the day of the meeting in order to be accommodated. It is highly recommended that written testimony be submitted in addition to registering to provide oral testimony. Oral testimony will be limited to three (3) minutes per testifier

Mahalo for your ongoing support. Let’s make our collective voice count.

Me ke aloha, 

Christian L. Fern

Executive Director