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In Solidarity

Divide and Conquer Tactics Quelled

Relentless attacks against UH faculty are disguised in different venues,as witnessed in a recent joint hearing held by the Senate Labor and Technology (LBT) and Higher Education (HRE) Committees.

While the purpose of the hearing was to hear HB 2720, HD3, Related to Collective Bargaining, Senate HRE Chair Donna Mercado Kim used it as an opportunity to meet her own agenda. She questioned the validity of the need for the graduate assistants to form a union and whether they are truly standing in solidarity with UHPA, alleging that faculty are the “culprit” for graduate assistants being unfairly treated or neglected.  

To Senate HRE Chair Donna Mercado Kim’s surprise, her off-topic questioning in an attempt to divide and conquer were rebuffed by the responses given by ALU Representative Dianne Deauna who attempted to steer the conversation back to the core issue of the hearing—to establish the need for collective bargaining and a legal framework for recourse when there are violations. 

It’s unfortunate that the proposed intent and purpose of this legislation, which is to allow graduate assistants employed by the University of Hawai‘i and community college system to collectively bargain upon determination by the Hawaii Labor Relations Board (HLRB) was overshadowed by the senator’s unrelated questioning.

People watching or listening to the hearing would have thought the hearing was yet another attempt to criticize UH faculty rather than to understand the actual purpose and intent of the bill.  

Article XIII, Section 2, of the Hawai‘i State Constitution provides that “Persons in public employment shall have the right to organize for the purpose of collective bargaining as provided by law.”  The HLRB has already issued an Order No. 4019, Case No. 23-DR-00-120, that graduate assistants are public employees employed by a public employer, and therefore, Article XIII, Section 2. applies to graduate assistants and entitled to collective bargaining as provided by law.

Senator Kim needs to refocus her attention to the intent and purpose of the proposed legislation as outlined in Part I, Section 1. of  HB 2720, HD 3, and collectively push and support graduate assistants in their pursuit to finally have their constitutional rights to collective bargaining honored, as provided by law that they have been denied for too long.

In Solidarity.