The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) faculty overwhelmingly voted in favor of ratifying a successor contract that will keep salaries and healthcare premium contributions level over the next two years.
Out of a total of 1,273 votes that were cast, 1,216 votes approved the provisions in the tentative agreement, which represents 95.5% of the votes. The final votes from faculty members were submitted and tallied today at 5 pm.
We took on unprecedented challenges
At any other time, a contract that offers no increase to account for inflation would have met with resistance and be outright rejected. However, our faculty, who have been on the frontlines of the pandemic since last year, know these are extraordinary and unprecedented times.Based on the voting results and feedback from many of you, it is clear faculty understand the challenges facing our state and have expressed appreciation for the stability this successor contract offers.
But that didn’t stop us
Without a doubt, the pandemic created a very challenging year. Faculty across all the 10 campuses rapidly mobilized and reinvented the way higher education is delivered, shifting from classroom instruction to an online learning environment in one week. As a result, the University of Hawai‘i proudly awarded nearly 10,850 degrees and certificates to deserving students last year.And we discovered a new way to get things done
This accomplishment was no easy feat.
It required being flexible, adaptable, and a commitment to work closely with the UH administration. If there is a silver lining to the pandemic, it was that we re-discovered how joint-decision making enabled us to effectively move forward together. This model of collaboration, engagement, and dialogue served as the foundation for our contract negotiations. Instead of contentious debate, we focused on finding solutions to maintain faculty retention and ensured the ongoing quality of instruction and research at the University of Hawai‘i.
But not without stress and drama
Unfortunately, in the midst of the pandemic, there were days and weeks punctuated with stress and anxiety over proposed pay cuts and mandated furloughs. Faculty longed for more straightforward communication based on mutual respect, but often learned the potential status of their jobs during news conferences at the same time as everyone else. It was unsettling to watch events unfold to balance the state’s budget without knowing all of the details.
We’re confident about facing tomorrow’s challenges
All of that seems like a distant memory. Nevertheless, we have emerged wiser and more prepared for the future together in solidarity. The contract we have today is a vote of confidence that faculty will play a critical role in the state’s economic recovery and that University of Hawai‘i continues to be a major economic engine for the state.
Let’s move forward as we continue to uphold our commitment to teaching, research and community service — all of the pillars that make the University of Hawai‘i a great institution of higher learning.