Message from UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern and UH Vice President Don Straney on behalf of the UHPA-UH Joint Workgroup

Last week, the Temporary Remote Teaching Workgroup—a combined effort of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and UH administrators—met to review the support and resources available to faculty preparing for the transition to working with students who were not on campus. Several recent proclamations from the Governor and Mayors probably made your preparations more challenging. This week, we have been monitoring the initial stages of implementing last week’s planning on each of the 10 UH campuses.

The initial reports are that you have made a great start on this new mode of working at UH. We have heard from faculty on each campus and from some of their administrators how the first two days have gone. There have been issues, glitches, and problems for sure, but far fewer than one might have expected. The resources and mini-courses provided by instructional designers last week are definitely paying off. Most impressive to us have been the reports of faculty pitching in to help one another: explaining to colleagues how to use Zoom, offering advice on posting videos to YouTube, even videotaping each other performing lab experiments for students to critique and analyze. Librarians, advisors and other faculty supporting student learning have also had to adapt to delivering services in a climate of uncertainty about health and safety. The hard work of last week (and it has only been that long) is beginning to pay off for our students. Your professionalism, creativity and commitment to the students will carry the University of Hawai‘i community through this difficult time.

We have heard reports that some people are uncertain if they can come to campus under the current stay-at-home orders. People who provide education can leave home to come to campus for work. Instructors should feel free to use their offices and the various teaching resources on campus, including HITS classrooms. The campuses are implementing all of the CDC recommendations to maintain a safe work environment and the facilities staff have stepped up the cleaning protocols to meet current needs. The University is providing any protective equipment your work requires and you should talk with your department chair or supervisor if you have concerns, questions, or ideas.

One common report in the past few days has been that students are not all fully engaging with remotely-delivered classes and don’t always respond to instructors’ or advisors’ emails. It is important to continue reaching out to your students to help keep them engaged with the university. We have also heard of increased interactions students are having in some classes, where chat boxes, for example, make it easier for them to ask questions and interact with each other. Engaging students with learning tasks has always been the challenge for instructing, advising, or supporting learning but current situations are making it more difficult while also presenting new opportunities.

The working group will continue to meet over the next few weeks so faculty and administrators can provide input to each other on how the semester is progressing and what issues, concerns and problems arise. Please don’t hesitate to contact us via our email address with concerns you have.

UHPA MODIFIED OPERATIONS

Due to the unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as Mayor Caldwell’s Emergency Order No. 2020-02 (COVID-19 [Novel Coronavirus]) Stay at home/Work from home order, UHPA is modifying its operations to ensure that we can continue to fully service and represent our Faculty Members in the most efficient and transparent manner.

UHPA’s normal business hours will remain unchanged; operating Monday – Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. In order to honor social distancing, a few of UHPA support staff will be temporarily working at home as feasible and only working from the office when operations dictate. The operations for UHPA professional staff will remain unchanged.

All UHPA staff will be available and reachable during normal business hours by email (follow this link to the staff directory) or by calling 593-2157 on Oahu and 1-808-593-2157 on the neighbor islands. For social distancing purposes, we respectfully request that all visitations and in-person (face-to-face) meetings with any UHPA staff, both support and professional, be made via appointment one day in advance. We will be transitioning to virtual meetings between UHPA staff and its membership and respectfully requests this be the preferred method during this period.

UHPA would like to take this opportunity to thank and recognize all Faculty Members for their teaching, service, and contributions not only to the University of Hawai‘i but to our communities and the State. We all collectively will stand strong and come together as one. Stay safe and healthy.

UHPA Update on COVID-19 Working Conditions

On Friday, March 13, 2020, UHPA met with UH administrators and voiced our concerns for the health and safety of our membership as a whole, as well as, making sure all Faculty Members received the required support, services, resources, etc. to help with the transition to on-line instruction, as well as, other conditions as they may arise. UH agreed with UHPA that a working group should commence immediately to address these concerns that UHPA raised and jointly noticed all Faculty Members of the establishment of the working group and an email address to allow all Faculty Members to share their concerns to the working group – which consists of UHPA and UH representatives.

The working group includes eleven (11) Faculty Members. In constructing the committee, UHPA wanted to ensure that we had broad representation, and included a total of four (4) Faculty Members, including two (2) Librarians, that are non-instructional. The working group has been meeting daily since Tuesday, March 17, 2020 and will continue to meet on a regular basis in order to address the multitude of questions, concerns, and seeking clarification over the numerous messages that have been issued by our State’s government leaders. UHPAʻs goal is to obtain all the necessary information on these issues so that we can collectively, with the UH, provide a list of Q&A’s on these topics and seeking commitments from the UH to provide a safe workplace as required by OSHA rules and regulations.

UHPA’s position is that we need to ensure that all Faculty Members are provided with all available resources, services, and support in helping them transition to on-line instruction. We also want to ensure that all Faculty Members who continue to teach courses, programs, and classes that require face-to-face instruction, as well as non-instructional faculty that will remain on campus for their duties, have access to the required resources, services, and support to protect their health and safety needs. In this regard, we are ensuring that any and all recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are being recognized and will be implemented by UH on this matter. The CDC recommendations are changing and evolving. The links here are the most up to date issued by the CDC on this subject:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/workplace-school-and-home-guidance.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/colleges-universities/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-ihe-response.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/community-mitigation-strategy.pdf

It is important to point out that instructional faculty have not been assigned to “work from home.” What has changed for them is that students will no longer meet with them in person in a classroom. The joint committee has been working to identify issues and are looking for different ways that they can engage in and develop ways to teach their classes in other modes. All non-instructional faculty can utilize the voluntary work-from-home process announced by President Lassner last week, if such accommodations are available.

The University has shared the COVID-19 Work-From-Home Request form. This form should be completed by non-instructional faculty members solely to be used as a means to document their request and ability to work from home.

The situation is constantly evolving, and we will be sure to send updates based upon directives from the Federal, State or County officials.

We are still in discussions with the UH Administration through this working group on addressing all of these concerns, inclusive of UHPA’s concerns over the health and safety of it’s membership, and we will continue to meet and function as a working group to collaboratively address these issues as they arise.

UHPA Responds to UH’s Online Conversion

UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern responds to UH President David Lassner’s email regarding the plans for online course conversion.

200312 Ltr to D. Lassner re COVID-19

2020 UHPA Board of Directors’ Election

In accordance with the UHPA Bylaws, the UHPA Nominations & Elections Committee is charged with preparing a list of nominees for the 2020 Board of Directors’ Election.

On April 3, 2020, all UHPA Active members of the relevant constituency units (Honolulu CC, Kapiolani CC, Windward CC & UH-Manoa) will receive an email notice with voting information and instructions on voting electronically. A link to all candidates’ biographical information and personal statements will also be provided. The voting period for the UHPA Board of Directors’ Election will run from April 3, 2020 through April 20, 2020.

UHPA Appoints Dwight Takeno

Dwight Takeno Named Associate Executive Director of
University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA)

Dwight Takeno, who has nearly 30 years of human resources, public administration and union leadership experience, has been named an Associate Executive Director with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA), the union representing 3,700 faculty across 10 University of Hawaii campuses statewide. His appointment became effective Feb. 10, 2020.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Dwight’s caliber as part of our team,” said Christian Fern, UHPA Executive Director. “His extensive experience in the administration of large, complex programs and in collective bargaining representing both unions and employers will be valuable as UHPA continues to work collaboratively with others in our community.”

Prior to joining UHPA, Takeno had been Administrator of the Employee Claims Division of the State of Hawaii’s Department of Human Resources Development from August 2018 to February 2020. He had been responsible for administering multiple programs, including the statewide self-insured workers’ compensation program for the executive branch, public charter schools, Hawaii Public Housing Authority, the legislature, the state’s safety program, and the State’s Return to Work Priority Program.

Takeno also has nearly 10 years of leadership experience within the University of Hawaii’s System. He initially joined the UH as a Senior Human Resources Specialist in 2007 for a year and, after serving as Interim Executive Director and Chief Negotiator for the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA), he rejoined the UH in January 2010 as the Assistant to the Senior Executive for the Vice President for Academic Planning and Policy to provide consultation to senior leaders on issues relating to academic human resources management and strategic initiatives.

A year later, he was promoted to Director of Collective Bargaining & Employee Relations to provide consultation to UH chancellors, senior executives and personnel administrators on collective bargaining agreements as well as personnel policies and procedures of the UH Board of Regents and UH. Takeno served in that role for five years before being named Director of Administrative Services in the UH Office of the Vice President for Research & Innovation where he served for two years. In that role, he was responsible for directing, planning, and administering the strategic and programmatic administration for the Research and Innovation Office.

Takeno also has private sector experience, having served as Vice President – Operations and General Manager for Progressive Communications, LLC, from March 2003 to March 2007.

In addition to HSTA, Takeno’s union leadership experience includes serving as Interim State Director and Director of Research & Legislation with the United Public Workers, Local 646, AFL-CIO for 12 years, from February 1991 to January 2003.

Takeno, a Kaneohe resident, holds both a bachelor’s degree in education and a professional diploma in education from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He has served on the boards of a number of nonprofit organizations and currently serves as Chair of the Human Resources Committee of the Board of Education.

 

Why does UHPA get involved with political endorsements?

Mention the term, “political endorsements” to some faculty, and you may get a virulent reaction. These faculty may believe we should not have to stoop to being involved with such dirty, messy processes.

Unfortunately, that may be the same reason many in Hawaii do not actively engage in the political process and voter turnout remains low, even with our state’s change to mail-in ballots. Some may see the political process as a waste of time and not worthy of their time and attention. They willingly relinquish their rights to those who are willing to dive into the process. Unfortunately, this means many do not have a say in who leads our state or makes decisions that directly impact faculty. It’s a vicious cycle that leads to more disenchantment with the political system.

Rationale for Political Endorsements

Faculty, of all voters, should understand and appreciate the rationale for political endorsements. UHPA carefully reviews and vets candidates to determine who is willing to listen and understand the perspectives of UH faculty. Our Political Endorsement Committee now includes members of UHPA’s board of directors to ensure broad representation of views in endorsement recommendations that are presented for a vote before the full board.

Endorsements are important to candidates. They count on endorsements from credible organizations because it shows they have the substantial backing— either financial support, volunteer campaign support, and ultimately, voter support—to win in their respective race. When others see this, they also want to support a winning candidate.

Improving Favorable Outcomes

Supporting candidates that are supportive of UH faculty is no guarantee of getting what we need, but it enhances our ability to be heard on critical issues and improves our likelihood of having outcomes favorable for faculty.

Five Ways to Be a Part of the Political Process

You can play a key role in stopping elected government officials from making uninformed decision-making that have negative consequences for faculty. Here are five ways faculty can be a part of the political process:

  1. Just getting through your own set of challenges within your department and managing your own priorities can be challenging enough as a UH faculty member. Rise to the challenge of becoming engaged with our external political environment—all the things that affect the UH outside of the UH.
  2. Be informed about who is introducing or advocating for policies or practices that support or harm UH faculty. The UHPA team is also doing the same and chances are you will have the same views for political endorsements.
  3. Feel free to discuss this within you Primary Academic Unit (PAU) so that it can be rolled up for discussion at the Faculty Forum. Your input may be enlightening or confirm what others may also feel about prospective candidates.
  4. Consider becoming actively involved in supporting candidates. This could be sign waving, being involved with their fundraisers, or other activities that a candidate may require support.
  5. Vote. Complete the endorsement process by voting for the candidate. Imagine if every UHPA member voted and all supported a candidate. That would be more than 3,500 votes that could push them way ahead of an opposing candidate.

 

Political Party Organizing is Underway in Hawai‘i

Democratic Party Precinct Meetings

The Precinct meetings, where the election of Precinct & District officers as well as the delegates to State & County Conventions, will take place on Wednesday, March 4, 2020 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM at various locations across the state. You will be able to find a complete listing of those locations on the Party’s website www.hawaiidemocrats.org in January 2020 as well as in the ads that will run on Sunday, February 9, 2020 in your county’s paper of record.

Democratic Party Presidential Preference Polls (PPP)

All members of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i will be able to vote by mail in the Party-run Presidential Primary as noted below:
If someone is an enrolled member of the Democratic Party of Hawai’i (which you can do on-line at www.hawaiidemocrats.org/join and a registered voter in the state of Hawaii (https://olvr.hawaii.gov) by February 18, 2020 a ballot will be mailed to your house.
A second mailing will be done after March 8, 2020 only for those who join between Feb. 19 & March 8, 2020
Anyone that joins after March 8, 2020 will be required to go to a polling location on April 4, 2020 (see recommendation below)
It is recommended that if you have your ballot in your possession on April 1, 2020 (March 30, 2020 for rural areas) that you drop your ballot off at one of the polling sites, as all ballots must be received by 3:00 pm on Saturday, April 4, 2020 to be counted.)

Republican Party

The Republican Party has forgone any Precinct Meetings or Presidential Preference Poll for the 2020 election cycle. Should you have any questions here is their party website (https://www.gophawaii.com/).

Green Party

The Green Party has not listed any information regarding meetings for 2020. Should you have any questions here is their party website (https://www.greenpartyofhawaii.org/).

Register to Vote – ALL MAIL VOTING

Hawai‘i is now an all mail-in voting state. Make sure you are registered to vote at this link.  We will continue to update you.

Happy New Year!

Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Welcome, 2020! It’s a new year and a new decade, and UHPA members remain committed to being a vital part of our community.

We are an organization that is accustomed to tackling challenges head on. Securing, protecting and upholding the rights of faculty has many challenges. UHPA members continue to be front and center in the fray. You have proven to be nimble, agile and tenacious.

Our faculty make our campuses, our state and the world a better place. Supporting an environment where faculty can function at an optimal level continues to be our foremost priority. We must all do our part to ensure faculty receive what they need to flourish. Together, our shared vision of having great faculty able to share their knowledge with the next generation of Hawaiʻi residents and to conduct groundbreaking research that benefits all of us will become a reality.

We anticipate the journey ahead this year will not be easy, but we are confident that through the collaborative efforts of faculty and the broader community, we as UHPA can play a leading role in ushering in positive change for our state.

Let’s all commit to making 2020 the start of a great new year and decade.

UHPA leadership team and staff

Why does UHPA invest in legislative activities?

In an ideal world, University of Hawaii faculty would be able to focus on what they do best—research and teaching—and they would in turn receive the appreciation and professional respect due them. This would be reflected in favorable public policies and state appropriations that support the UH, its faculty and programs.

Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. It has been imperative for UHPA, which represents the faculty, to step forward to intervene, defend and proactively shape legislation to ensure faculty are being treated respectfully.

Upcoming Session Requires Ongoing Vigilance

You can count on the UHPA team to continue to be involved on behalf of faculty in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Wednesday, January 15, 2020, and continues through Thursday, May 7, 2020. It will be an intense, 60-day period that requires vigilance, tenacity, perseverance. Here is the schedule for the 2020 legislative session. 

Top three reasons UHPA is actively involved in the legislature:

  1. The University of Hawaii is an autonomous organization, but initial funding decisions rest in the hands of state legislators, particularly those who are on the Senate and House Committees on Higher Education. Since many do not differentiate between the UH administration and UH faculty, legislation designed to hold the UH administration accountable may have the unintended consequence of adversely impacting UH faculty. It is important UHPA makes this distinction by ensuring UH faculty have their own collective voice in the legislature.
  2. UH administration and UHPA should be tied at the hip when approaching legislators. What is good for UH is good for UH faculty, and vice versa. However, we know UH administration and UH faculty have not been unified. UH faculty have had to fend for themselves to avoid having their rights trampled upon by legislators. We remain hopeful one day faculty can feel confident that UH administration has their back and will support their rights while also supporting the UH.
  3. A quick glance at the types of legislation proposed in the upcoming session reveals that we will be starting off the new year and new decade with some tough challenges. Many of the bills being introduced relate to funding UH programs. We will be closely monitoring bills, actively providing testimony, and having heart-to-heart, one-to-one meetings with legislators this coming session.

For your reference, follow this link to see the legislative bills affecting UH programs and faculty.