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UHPA formally issues Demand to Bargain over Letters of Hire

On Thursday, October 27, UHPA sent the below letter via certified mail to President Lassner to address the unresolved issue over letters of hire which we have previously discussed.

Kristeen Hanselman, Executive Director for UHPA, explained the rationale behind this Demand to Bargain:

“UHPA is committed to ensuring that faculty members are not subject to the arbitrary whims of administrators who fail to meet their commitments contained within letters of hire. There has not been a constructive outcome that advances the rights of faculty members to expect their letter of hire be honored. The position of the University is that letters of hire are private contracts with individual employees and  enforceable only through a lawsuit brought by the injured faculty member. The absurdity of this means that a faculty member’s contractual rights to grieve are being challenged by the employer on key issues such as wages.”

Faculty members hired within the last three to five years are especially vulnerable. If you have provisions of your letter of hire not being honored, please contact UHPA.

Copy of letter sent on Thursday, October 27, 2016:

(formatting will vary from original letter due to HTML differences)

David Lassner, President
University of Hawaii System
2444 Dole Street, Bachman 202
Honolulu, HI  96822

Dear President Lassner:

After months of attempting to find a mutually agreed upon resolution that letters of hire would be subject to collective bargaining and enforced through the collective bargaining agreement, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) is submitting this demand to bargain.

UHPA will not remain silent while the University of Hawaii (University) imposes letters of hire and supplemental agreements to individual faculty members that establish private terms and conditions of employment that circumvent collective bargaining with the recognized union representative.  The arguments advanced by the University undermine not only the traditional academic practice, but substantially diminish its credibility and appeal to any faculty member considering employment with the University.  To adhere to a practice that the employer may unilaterally change compensation and conditions of work established by a letter of hire breeds distrust and creates a coercive environment for new faculty members.

UHPA demands the following:

1)  Effective immediately, the University will cease and desist from issuing any letter of hire, purporting to hire any person into bargaining unit 07, that states, contains, infers, promises, cross-references, or alludes to any of the following, unless that letter of hire is countersigned and approved by UHPA in advance:

a. wage rate;
b. compensation package;
c. incentive package;
d. startup package;
e. commitment of resources;
f. timeline to or conditions for tenure;
g. workload, hours; and
h. any other bargainable term or condition of employment, whether inside or outside the letter of hire.

2) Effective immediately, the University will meet and bargain over and present written proposals for language to be promptly incorporated into a Memorandum of Understanding effective for the current academic year and the next Collective Bargaining Agreement that will:

a. recognize and validate, both retroactively and prospectively, the traditional academic hiring procedure, as practiced for decades at the University, through explicit language subjecting all bargainable topics contained in letters of hire to enforcement under the collective bargaining agreement; and/or
b. provide minimum standards of initial employment for all incoming faculty through explicit matrices or charts or language establishing floors for all terms contained in typical letters of hire and as to all disciplines, ranks, and categories of incoming faculty on all campuses; and/or
c. provide a routine by which UHPA can, in the future, review any and all unit 07 letters of hire and effectively reject them, and by which the parties can accept and adopt previously-issued letters of hire.

If item 2) is achieved, item 1) will be unnecessary; but item 1) shall be in effect until item 2) is achieved.

The actions contained in items 1) and 2) must be implemented by October 31, 2016 with notice of such action received by UHPA by the close of business on October 31.  If notice of compliance is not received, UHPA reserves the right to take any and all corrective action without further notice.


Kristeen Hanselman

Executive Director

cc:  John Morton, VP for Community Colleges