With a vested interest in the outcome of the Hawaii State Teachers Association’s prohibited practice complaint filed with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly filed a “Petition for Intervention” with the HLRB this afternoon. The petition, filed on behalf of UHPA by Tony Gill, attorney with Gill, Zukeran & Sgan, will allow UHPA to comment on the legal aspects relating to this case.

“It’s important to note that we are not commenting on the facts leading up to the State’s unilateral implementation of its last, best, final contract offer to HSTA, but we felt it was imperative to share our concerns and obtain clarification about the circumstances that determine whether and how an employer may unilaterally implement a last, best, final offer,” said J. N. Musto, Executive Director and Chief Negotiator of UHPA, which represents nearly 4,000 faculty members statewide in the University of Hawaii system.

The outcome of this HLRB case will have implications for UHPA and other unions. Unlike some other labor unions, if there is an impasse in negotiations between UHPA and the State, faculty members would be allowed to strike and would not be subject to interest arbitration. Based on the petition filed today, UHPA will seek to ensure the faculty’s right to strike will be not be affected by the HLRB’s decision.

Although UHPA’s current contract does not expire for another four years, UHPA is taking a precautionary measure to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation in the future. “Any decision reached in this case may form the blueprint for the same tactic when UHPA’s current contract expires in 2015,” the petition noted.

The specter of having a last, best, final offer imposed on faculty members is still fresh in the minds of UH faculty members. In 2010, the University of Hawaii attempted to unilaterally impose its last, best, final offer for the faculty, but both the UH and UHPA reached an agreement before any court or arbitration decisions were necessary.

“We simply want to ensure there is a bargaining table that fosters good-faith negotiations. We recognize the UH and faculty are critical to our state, and the last thing anyone wants is to impact students and the quality research that takes place at our university. We want to ensure the impasse resolution process enhances a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect,” Musto said.