UH Rescinds Return To Work Requirement

UHPA’s Negotiations Team has been working with UH over the recent weeks regarding policies concerning returning to work.   These discussions, now being lead by Vice President for Community Colleges (VPCC) Erika Lacro are beginning to yield fruitful results and good collaboration, most recently noted by UH President David Lassner announcing that “The previously announced requirement that all employees return to campus August 3 is rescinded and the COVID-19 Telework leave option will remain in place.”

Great Results Are Possible Through Genuine Collaboration

UHPA will continue working with UH in developing a non-COVID-19 telework policy that represents the best interests for all. Christian Fern, Executive Director of UHPA said, “When the pandemic first struck in the Spring of 2020 and there was an immediate shift to distance learning, UH and UHPA demonstrated that we can efficiently work together to resolve issues.  The collaboration resulted in over 17,000 degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded to students during the pandemic. It simply makes sense to continue in this tradition of collaboration with UH, lead by VPCC Erika Lacro, as we now shift to discussing return-to-campus policies that will have long-term positive effects upon the entire UH community”.

We’ll continue to update our members on this progress via our regular Monday Reports. 

Terminated Tenured Position Fiasco Gets National Attention

We came across “Hawaiʻi Legislature Terminates Tenured Professor’s Position” over at TheScientist that is worth reading, though if you’ve been following our Monday Reports, there’s nothing new in there. That said, it’s got some good quotes from UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern, among others like:

“When has the legislature turned into the employer? Is it the Senators’ job to determine whether or not a particular faculty member is meeting his or her expectations?”

UHPA Executive Director Christian Fern on TheScientist

Even UH spokesperson Dan Meisenzahl seemed to agree that what happened could be problematic:

Meisenzahl notes that the university collectively bargains with three public unions, including the UHPA, and “to have the legislature start to fire people, so to speak . . . it does compromise the university’s position as a hirer and employer, as we sign and agree to contracts with our unions.”

The article is a quick, easy read that’s worth sharing.

Possible paycheck deduction error on EUTF

You may have a DAGS Error on 7/20/21 Paychecks on EUTF calculations

The below is excerpted from an email sent to EUTF trustees. If you have any questions or concerns UHPA recommends you do as directed below and contact EUTF directly.  

Late last week we found out that DAGS made an error on the 7/20/21 paychecks related to EUTF deductions.  DAGS normal process is to upload our EUTF file with the upcoming health benefit deductions.  For the 7/20/21 paycheck, DAGS was running the EUTF file and another file at the same time.  This resulted in 26,000 out of 109,000 rows (each row represents one employee’s deduction for EUTF medical, drug, dental or vision) not being updated properly.  The bulk of these updates are probably for the increase in premiums which would result in an under collection.  However, if the member during open enrollment dropped a dependent or changed to a lower cost plan, this would not have been reflected resulting in an over collection.  DAGS will resolve the issue by taking the following actions:

  1. Notify the departments of the issue (an email was sent on Friday, 7/16). 
  2. Determine the 7/20/21 over or under collection and will refund or collect the difference on the 8/5/21 paycheck.
  3. Implement procedures to prevent the same situation in the future. 

At this point, we do not have to make changes on our side.  However, please note the following:

  1. Shortage notices should not be sent out as any under collections should be resolved (i.e. 8/5/21) prior to the next shortage notice print out (i.e. mid August).
  2. EUTF staff will not issue refunds related to the 7/20/21 paycheck until we receive the 8/5/21 DAGS payroll deduction file. 
  3. Our Member Services Staff have been apprised of the situation and will be able to assist the members impacted.

HMSA publishes EUTF video on receiving care

UHPA received the following (unedited) message from HMSA that may be of interest to our members:

We are now past the halfway point of 2021, and a return to normalcy is right around the corner. With the state slowly reopening and travel resuming, it has never been more important to feel safe. Here at HMSA we know this includes getting the care you want, when and where you need it. We created a video for your members to learn about HMSA’s extensive network and access to care. It can also be viewed at hmsa.com/eutf

To show our members all the different ways care is available to them, this video answers questions like:

– Where can you go for care outside of normal office hours?

– What kind of care can you receive on the outer islands? What about outside of Hawaii?

We hope this video will give your members peace of mind that they will always have access to the care they need.

Attend a Tenure and Promotion Workshop Near You

Tenure, Promotion and Contract Renewal Workshops

UHPA has been invited to numerous Tenure, Promotion and Contract Renewal workshops throughout the years.  This year is no different.  UHPA staff have already attended the UH-Hilo and the University of Hawaii Community College (UHCC) Dossier Writing Series workshops.  Here is a list of upcoming workshops UHPA will be attending via zoom.  Please be sure to register with your campus if you would like to attend.  To register for the UHCC Dossier Writing workshops, go to:  go.hawaii.edu/Par 

  • July 22, 2021 – 3:00-4:30 p.m.:  UHCC Dossier Writing Series – Writing Tips for Your Dossier
  • July 27, 2021 – 10:00-11:30 a.m.:  UHCC Tenure/Promotion & Contract Renewal Applicant Training
  • July 28, 2021 – 3:00-4:30 p.m.:  UHCC Dossier Writing Series – Evaluation & Assessment in Your Dossier
  • August 18, 2021 – 10:00-11:00 a.m.:  UH-Hilo Contract Renewal, Tenure & Promotion
  • August 27, 2021 – 3:00-4:00 p.m.:  UH-West Oahu Tenure & Promotion Application Process
  • September 1, 2021 – 1:30-2:30 p.m.:  Leeward CC Contract Renewal Process
  • September 1, 2021 – 3:00-4:00 p.m.:  Leeward CC Tenure & Promotion Process
  • September 10, 2021 – 3:00-4:00 p.m.:  UH-West Oahu Contract Renewal Application and Process 
  • October 1, 2021 – 3:00-4:00 p.m.:  UH-West Oahu Serving on a DPC, FPC or TPRC

Contract Successor Agreement Terms Published

2021-2023 Unit 7 Successor Agreement Negotiated Changes Published

The approved changes to the Unit 7 successor agreement and the terms agreed upon by the parties that will be incorporated into the 2021-2023 Unit 7 UHPA/BOR Agreement can be found on the UHPA website on the 2021-2023 Tentative Agreement page.

Contract Printing of Full Agreement Underway

UHPA, UH, and the Governor are now in the process of finalizing the changes to produce a formally executed successor agreement in full. Once the changes have been reviewed and memorialized in draft form, the parties will take a final review and will need to mutually approve the changes for printing. The parties are hopeful that this review and approval process will occur shortly. Until the 2021-2023 Unit 7 UHPA/BOR Agreement is printed and distributed, please continue to reference the UHPA website contract section

Lynne Wilkens Endorsed by Hawaii Fire Fighters Association for ERS Board

UHPA was copied on the below letter from the President of the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association endorsing Lynne Wilkens for the  Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees, and we could not be happier.   Please support Lynne in the upcoming ERS Board Trustee Election.

Dear Dr. Wilkens,

On behalf of the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association’s (HFFA) Executive Board, I am pleased to share HFFA’s endorsement of your candidacy for Trustee of the State of Hawaii’s Employees’ Retirement System.

Your professional qualification, experience within the higher education system, and your advocacy on behalf of the members of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly over the many years makes you extremely qualified for the position on the Employees’ Retirement System Board of Trustees. HFFA is extremely confident that you will be an asset on the ERS Board and an advocate for all members, both active and retired. We will share HFFA’s endorsement with our retired and active members prior to ERS distributing the ballots in September.

Please feel free to call me if we can assist your candidacy and we look forward to working with you in 2022 as a Trustee on the Employees’ Retirement System Board.

Fraternally yours,
Robert H. Lee
President

Download the original PDF received: HFFA endorsement of Lynne Wilkens for ERS

Gov Ige Vetoes Harmful Bills

Reason Prevails!

Gov. David Ige Vetoes Legislative Bills Designed to Harm UH

It was a tumultuous year for everyone in 2020. The pandemic created a significant budget shortfall that required a closer look at ways to significantly reduce costs. Unfortunately, this resulted in legislative bills that were hastily approved to check the box of reducing the state’s expenses. Some of these bills were ill conceived and would have severe, lasting negative ramifications for the University of Hawaii and for our state.

The State is in Better Financial Shape

Since the state’s economic situation dramatically improved since the beginning of the legislative session, Gov. Ige reasoned that many of the drastic measures to reduce costs were no longer necessary. An infusion of federal relief funds from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provides Hawaii with timely, valuable economic support. In addition, the Council on Revenues projects a stronger, faster economic recovery for Hawaii.

As a result of these changes, on June 21, Gov. David Ige announced his intention to veto 28 of the 268 bills, which were presented to him to consider signing into law. The good news: he plans to veto two of those bills, which would have been harmful to the University of Hawaii. Fortunately, sound reason prevailed.

The two vetoed bills are SB589 SD2 HD2 CD1 – Relating to the University of Hawaii and HB1296 HD1 SD2 CD1 – Relating to State Funds.

Vetoed: Merger of UH Cancer Center with JABSOM

SB589 would have required among other things that the UH Cancer Center and the John A. Burns School of Medicine merge their administrative and infrastructure functions. In addition, the bill extends the sunset on rules governing the transfer of technology and innovation and commercialization efforts between the University and a private party.

It Could Be Unconstitutional

The Governor’s rationale for vetoing the bill was clear: “This measure may put the state in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s contracting clause. If enacted into law, the rule changes governing the transfer of technology and commercialization initiatives could jeopardize existing contracts committed to by the University. This would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s contracting clause, which forbids states from passing laws that impair the obligation of contracts.”

While Possibly Making UH Less Flexible In The Future

The rationale went on to state that “codifying the UH Cancer Center into law and setting organizational reporting into statute, limits the university’s flexibility to make changes to that structure in the future. While merging the administrative functions of the Cancer Center and Medical School may achieve cost savings, these structural changes should be made in consultation with the leadership of the respective institutions and UH Manoa leadership.”

Vetoed: Restrictions on UH Cancer Center Funding 

HB1296, which faced strong opposition from various organizations because it sought to repeal the Tobacco Control and Prevention Trust Fund and to allocate any remaining balances from the tobacco settlement funds to the general fund. This would have also eliminated settlement monies dedicated to the University of Hawai’i’s revenue-undertakings fund by July 2033, and caps the total amount in the Tobacco Settlement Special Fund at $4.3 million annually.

Stopped: Making UH Pay for Faculty Fringe Benefits

Clandestinely woven into the bill was a section requiring the University to reimburse the state for fringe benefit costs for any position paid for by a special fund. It also would prohibit the University of Hawai’i Cancer Center from using cigarette tax revenue for research or operation costs.

Vetoing This Was A No-brainer

Gov. Ige noted in his rationale that he would veto HB1296 because it would significantly increase costs for the University of Hawai’i, while simultaneously eliminating the UH Cancer Center’s ability to conduct cancer research and cancer center operations with cigarette tax revenue. This would basically defund programs to prevent or stop smoking and result in public health impacts and this will likely create significantly higher costs for the state’s health systems in the future.

Since the veto of a bill is an all or nothing proposition, the veto also eliminates the proposal to require the University to reimburse the state for fringe benefit costs.

But It’s Not Over Yet

While we can breathe a sigh of relief, it’s not over yet, an intent to veto is not a veto. Legislators have until July 6 to override the Governor’s vetoes.  They could also call for a special session where they could reintroduce bills. UHPA will keep you informed.

UHPA Endorses Lynne Wilkens for ERS Board

Lynne Wilkens

Fully endorsed by UHPA

Lynne Wilkens has all of the right qualities to serve in the Teacher Seat for the State of Hawai‘i Employees’ Retirement System. She has served in leadership roles with the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center for the past 33 years and successfully led UHPA through difficult challenges. Over a five-year period, she tirelessly served as a Negotiating Team Member, Treasurer, and Board President. Your vote for Lynne will make sure the concerns of Hawai‘i’s employees are heard!

Lynne’s quote:

“Numbers and data play important roles in crafting good policy. I see this daily in my profession as a Biostatistician. I apply careful analysis to best understand how to prevent and treat disease in my work at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center and instill these skills in my students.

As an ERS Trustee, I’ll make sure the numbers make sense for you and me. Good retirement benefits help to attract and retain great employees, and this ensures we can have a better quality of life and maintain high standards of service for the community.”

Rooms Added to Aulani – Last Chance to Book

Update: a few more rooms have been added!  This event was sold out but we were able to work with the folks at Aulani to give you one last chance to make a reservation.

UHPA is happy to announce our 7th annual UHPA Aulani Resort member-only benefit.  Stay at Disney’s Aulani Resort on 10/29 and/or 10/30 at a discounted rate.  Make your reservations now as this offer only comes once a year, we have limited availability and previous years have sold out.  Enjoy!