Aloha and Happy New Year!
It’s the time of the year we typically send each other best wishes for a prosperous New Year filled with good cheer.I believe the new year will be filled with good cheer but it will take a little more than wishful thinking and hope. It will take a concerted, collaborative effort to face unprecedented change that can affect the quality of life for all UH faculty. I believe 2018 will be a year that will show the resiliency of UH faculty and UHPA like never before.
We don’t need a crystal ball to see what’s in store for us in the year ahead.
The U.S. Supreme Court case of Janus v. AFSCME, expected to be heard in early 2018, may make union member dues optional. Janus is the first step to weaken faculty rights such as tenure and due process by taking away funds to protect faculty. Knowing there is strength in numbers in unions, the goal is to divide and conquer, attempting to make individual union members feel they can go up against employers on their own.
UHPA is buttressing UH faculty rights at the legislative front.
In light of Janus, we need to hold legislators’ feet to the fire to support legislation that protects faculty and preserves collective bargaining. We’ll be keeping a keen eye on the further erosion of retirement benefits for public sector employees. This has been a recurring theme promoted by the Governor and the Employee Retirement System (ERS) executive director in the media.
We can expect to see attempts to further erode faculty rights in the upcoming legislative session in other ways. There will be challenges to HRS Chapter 89 and the role of collective bargaining, which admittedly, many of us have come to take for granted in Hawaii.
Despite all of this, there are silver linings in the midst of all of this.
First, UHPA and UH faculty are vigilant, agile and nimble, ready to respond and take action. Second, 2018 will be an election year — a time when legislators may be hesitant to make sweeping changes that can cost them elections. UHPA will be carefully monitoring candidate races and interjecting ourselves to support candidates that have been supportive of faculty. Needless to say, we will also be tuned into the gubernatorial race, as the role of the governor has a significant impact on the quality of life for faculty.
With so many issues confronting us, 2018 will be a busy year. UHPA has made a commitment to provide more communications to Faculty Representatives and our members so that you can be informed and take appropriate action, as needed.
Let’s make 2018 a great year. It’s all up to us!