SB 134, RELATING TO THE UNIVERSITY OF HAWAIʻI

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor
Monday, February 27, 2017
10:00 am, Room 016

Attention: Chair Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Vice Chair Karl Rhoads and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) opposes SB 134 relating to a statutory prohibition on smoking, tobacco use and the use of electronic smoking devices by any person on the premises of the University of Hawaiʻi.  The University already has the authority and the ability to prohibit smoking and the use of tobacco and electronic smoking devices as noted in Section 1 paragraph 3 of SB 134.

The University has worked with UHPA in the past and continues to work with UHPA to ensure a healthy working conditions for the faculty and subsequently the students.  It continues to be the right of UHPA to work with the University to ensure that any policy that impacts faculty work environment promotes “positive health practices.”

We appreciate the opportunity to continue retaining the determination of best practices in the workplace; in the workplace rather than in statute.

UHPA opposes the passage of SB 134.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

SB 919, SD1, RELATING TO PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT COST ITEMS

The Senate Committee on Ways and Means
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
10:05 am, Room 211

Attention: Chair Jill Tokuda, Vice Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urge the Committee to support passage of SB 919, SD1 which is a measure to appropriate funds for fiscal biennium 2017-2019 for salary costs for public employees in collective bargaining unit (7) and for certain employees excluded from collective bargaining.

UHPA urges the committee to support SB 919, SD1.

Respectfully Submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

SB 981, SD1, RELATING TO THE HAWAII LABOR RELATIONS BOARD

The Committee on Ways and Means
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
9:30 am, Room 211

Attention: Chair Jill Tokuda, Vice Chair Donovan Dela Cruz and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urge the Committee to support passage of SB 981, SD 1 that amends Chapter 396, Hawaii Revised Statutes, providing the HLRB the same authority already allowed under Chapter 89 regarding service of pleadings.  UHPA supports efforts to streamline processes and procedures for the HLRB that will result in administrative efficiencies.

UHPA supports passage of SB 981, SD1.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

HB 810, HD1 Relating to Collective Bargaining

The House Committee on Finance
Thursday, February 23, 2017
1:00 pm, Room 308

Attention:    Chair Sylvia Luke, Vice Chair Ty Cullen and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to support passage of HB 810, HD1.

Chapter 89-9, Hawaii Revised Statutes, outlines the scope of negotiations and consultation and Chapter 89-11, Hawaii Revised Statutes, outlines the resolution of disputes and impasse procedures between the exclusive representative and the employer.  The amendments to these respective sections outlined in HB 810 HD1 will provide the appropriate pathway for resolving disputes between the exclusive representative and the employer regarding contributions to the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund (EUTF).   

UHPA urges the committee to support HB 810, HD1.

Respectfully Submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

 

HB 424, HD1, Relating to The University of Hawaii

The House Committee on Finance
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
2:00 pm, Room 308

Attention: Chair Sylvia Luke, Vice Chair Ty Cullen and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to support HB 424, HD1 that reinstates the authority and responsibility for all procurement contracts under chapter 103D, Hawaii revised Statutes, to the University President.

The ability of the University to expedite construction needs for repair and maintenance as well as new construction is essential to enhancing instruction and research. The physical conditions that students and employees experience influence recruitment and retention. For too long the need to remove impediments in procurement has languished resulting in repairs and replacement of buildings being delayed. The University President should have both the authority and the accountability for procurement.

UHPA urges the committee to support HB 424, HD1.                                                                     

Respectfully Submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

HB 232, HD1, RELATING TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

The House Committee on Finance
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
3:00 pm, Room 308

Attention: Chair Sylvia Luke, Vice Chair Ty Cullen and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to support HB 232, HD1, which encourages the parties to a collective bargaining agreement to negotiate in a manner that effectuates the purpose of Chapter 89. Such purpose includes recognizing that public employees have a voice in determining their working conditions. This proposed measure advances the cooperative relations between employers and employees that establishes a healthy collective bargaining environment.

UHPA encourages the Committee to support HB 232, HD1.

Respectfully Submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

 

HB 213, HD1 RELATING TO FAMILY LEAVE

The House Committee on Finance
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
3:00 pm, Room 308

Attention: Chair Sylvia Luke, Vice Chair Ty Cullen and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) urges the committee to support passage of HB 213, HD1 that amends the Hawaii Family Leave Law, Chapter 398 of the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes to extend protected job status to care for a sibling or upon the death of a child, spouse, reciprocal beneficiary, sibling or parent.

UHPA has a very diverse bargaining unit with faculty in very different stages of their careers.  Leaves of absences, such as family leave, impact a broad based section of our membership, and is no longer a focus of the younger segment of our members who are having children.  Many faculty are dealing with caring for their spouses or parents.  Passage of this legislation will provide some much needed security for UHPA members that does not exist today.     

Faculty members are highly sought after in the highly competitive arena of higher education.  Passage of this measure will provide the necessary stability and security for our membership.

UHPA supports the passage of HB 213, HD1.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

HB 1182, HD1, Relating to Employees’ Retirement System

The House Committee on Finance
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
3:00 pm, Room 308

Attention: Chair Sylvia Luke, Vice Chair Ty Cullen and Members of the Committee

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) supports the intent of HB 1182, HD1, requiring the Employeesʻ Retirement System (ERS) actuary to perform annual stress tests of the system and the ERS Board to submit annual reports of the tests to the legislature.

Due to market indicators nationally, the ERS Board had previously taken a responsible approach by slowly lowering the assumed rate of return 50 basis points over a five year period. However, the recent decision by the ERS Board to reduce the assumed rate of return 50 basis points all at once has caused a great deal of anxiety for beneficiaries and the public as a whole.  That one action by the ERS Board immediately increased the unfunded liability by $1.7 Billion, and has statutorily forced the legislature to review the required employer contributions.  When actions by the ERS Board have statewide fiscal implications, additional oversight may be required to ensure the beneficiaries have confidence their interests are being addressed.

Requiring the ERS actuary to perform an annual stress test and report its findings to the legislature will provide a level of transparency that is currently not in place and ensure that the decisions of the ERS Board are not made in a vacuum since the decision to reduce the assumed rate has statewide implications.  

UHPA supports the intent of HB 1182, HD1.

Respectfully submitted,

Kristeen Hanselman
Executive Director

Kevin Bennett: our #HeroProf detecting kidney disease

Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of kidney disease in Hawaii, primarily because of poor diets and lack of exercise. A disproportionate number of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are affected by the disease.

It is not surprising that Hawaii has the one of the highest rates of diabetic kidney failure in the nation. Nationally, 45 percent of kidney failure is a result of diabetes. Hawaii exceeds this: 63 percent of kidney failure in Hawaii is attributed to the disease, according to recent studies.

The disease affects nearly one in seven adults in America, and according to the latest research, CKD-related deaths have doubled in the past two decades.

The trend is troubling and the future also looks bleak for the nation. The number of adults older than 30 years with kidney disease is projected to reach 28 million in 2020, and nearly 38 million in 2030, according to a national study.

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

The two main causes of chronic kidney disease are diabetes and high blood pressure, which are responsible for up to two-thirds of the cases. Diabetes occurs when your blood sugar is too high, causing damage to many organs in your body, including the kidneys and heart, as well as blood vessels, nerves and eyes.

Chronic kidney disease damages kidneys. Wastes build to high levels in the blood and make people sick. Complications include high blood pressure, anemia (low blood count), weak bones, poor nutritional health and nerve damage. Kidney disease also increases the risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

Kidney disease can go on for years without being diagnosed. There may not be any symptoms, but the disease can progress to kidney failure, eventually requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant to live.

Hawaii: A Dialysis Capital

Hawaii has the dubious distinction of being one of the top 10 states in the nation for new dialysis patients. Nephrologists, or kidney specialists, estimate there is an average of one new person that starts dialysis each day in Hawaii.

Spaces once occupied by retail stores are being replaced by dialysis centers at an alarming rate.  At last count, there are 25 renal dialysis centers in the state, 18 of which have opened within the past decade. These dialysis centers operate three shifts a day to meet the needs of the community.

While kidney transplants can be a solution, hundreds of people are on the waiting list, and more than 90 percent of these are for kidneys transplants.

In addition to the toll on people’s health, the disease can wreak havoc on wallets. Most patients typically need treatment three times a week, with copayments that can run as high as $1,000 per treatment. In 2010, the cost to Medicare for treatment of early and end-stage renal disease totaled more than $80 million nationally, according to the study in the American Journal of Kidney Diseases.

Sharing His Expertise to Benefit the Islands

Dr. Kevin Bennett, Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Hawaii-Mānoa, is breaking new ground. He is inventing new ways to detect the disease at an early stage, and his work will have an immediate, positive impact for Hawaii.

“Hawaii has a large population at risk for or are suffering from chronic kidney disease, with a significant fraction of the population on dialysis or awaiting transplant. Because we are such a small community, addressing the problem here can have a very direct impact very quickly,” Dr. Bennett said.

He relocated from Arizona State University and accepted a position at the UH-Mānoa with the promise of equipment that would help further his research.

“It was really the interesting research opportunities at UH that attracted me to Hawaii,” Dr. Bennett said. “First was the opportunity to work on a problem that is critical to this state population. Second, I was asked and funded to develop the first preclinical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) center in the state, which is an opportunity to support other scientists at UH. There are many faculty working on important problems in fields like ecology, marine biology, environmental sciences, cancer research, neuroscience, physiology, materials sciences, and others. Just in my own department of Biology, for example, our faculty work on critically important issues in a wide range of fields, and we all also teach students at the undergraduate and graduate level. It’s an exciting place to be for faculty and students.“

Breakthrough Research in Early Detection

Blood and urine tests, and working with a primary care physician to promote healthier lifestyles are important intervention steps to help monitor and manage the disease. Dr. Bennett is finding new ways to aid in early detection through state-of-the-art imaging.

From his lab in the Biomedical Sciences Building on the UH-Mānoa campus, Dr. Bennett is taking early detection to an entirely new level. By looking at changes in tissues at a molecular or cellular level, he is making new discoveries that potentially will change way medicine is practiced.

“My lab develops new technologies to aid in early detection of a range of diseases. We try to add precision to medical diagnostics through imaging. We have recently been heavily focused on early detection of risk of both cardiovascular and renal disease,” he said. “In particular, we have been trying to find ways to help patients who don’t know they have chronic kidney disease, patients who have kidney disease, or patients waiting for kidney transplants. These individuals include patients with diabetes or hypertension, or premature infants. We develop tools for doctors to detect these diseases early so they can be more effectively managed.”

Collaborating with Experts in Other States

Dr. Bennett is facilitating collaboration across the country. While he concentrates on technology and biophysical issues, Dr. Jennifer Charlton of the University of Virginia provides the clinical perspective and insight as a pediatric nephrologist and Dr. Teresa Wu of Arizona State University, an engineer, focuses on image analysis and algorithm development.

“We design and build new things, and along the way we make discoveries. The new technology allows us to ask new scientific questions. My long-term goal is to locate individual molecules and cells inside the living human, but there are a lot of new things that have to be done to make that happen,” Dr. Bennett said. “Right now, as an example, we have made some new magnetic contrast agents that let us see microscopic changes in tissue structure in the kidney using MRI.”

The Benefits of MRI: “Virtual Hisotopathology”

“MRI is a fantastic tool because it is inherently three dimensional, does not use any ionizing radiation like x-rays, and can give you a nice view of soft tissue, bone, and pretty much anything else,” Dr. Bennett said. “We work on increasing the sensitivity of MRI to let us do something that we’re calling ‘virtual histopathology,’ which provides full, three-dimensional microscopic analysis of the tissue without having to cut anything. Making this work is a real partnership between our different labs. Our field is generally called ‘molecular imaging,’ because we try to detect individual molecules or cells in tissue with very high specificity.”

Turning Research into Clinical Applications

“Through this new technique, we are starting to ask about the link between hypertension and kidney damage, something that has been poorly understood. This line of research has led to many other questions, which my collaborators and I will pursue in time. We are also working on a standalone transplant evaluation system, trying to better match transplant organs to recipients and actually get our technology into the clinic to help patients.”

Attracting Out-of-State Funding

This valuable work been continuously funded by extramural grants since 2009. Dr. Bennett’s team has received grants from the Army Research Office, American Heart Association, the Hawaii Community Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.
He currently has two round-one projects funded by the National Institutes of Health totaling nearly $3 million, roughly half of which goes to UH-Mānoa. He is now planning to submit a proposal for additional funding for a fast-track tech-transfer grant from the National Institutes of Health among other grant proposals.

Knowledge Transfer to Next-Generation Researchers

In addition to the benefits Hawaii derives from the research, many have the opportunity to work alongside Dr. Bennett.  He currently collaborates with about 20 other people working on these projects, including faculty, technicians, PhD students, and undergraduates. The research project will eventually need to hire a manager and a technologist to run the MRI center once it is fully operational.

Dr. Bennett is a giving person, and finds it professionally rewarding to share his knowledge with his students.

“I’m currently hiring several new graduate students at UH-Mānoa. I really enjoy mentoring PhD students so that’s my focus. My current graduate student in particular, Edwin Baldelomar, has been a real creative force in our work. In fact, none of this work would have been possible without students partnering with us to push them forward. The students at UH-Mānoa have incredible potential. It’s always exciting to see them grow into professionals.”

How you will be affected by a lump sum payment

Highlights

  • UHPA recently received the written salary proposal from the Governor.
  • The offer provides a 1% one-time lump sum cash bonus of a faculty members’ base salary.
  • The offer will impact faculty members differently based on your employment date.

If you were hired Before July 1, 2012

Faculty Members hired before July 1, 2012 will have ERS deductions taken from the lump sum cash bonus. The lump sum cash bonus will count toward the “high three” years of salary for purposes of calculating retirement benefits.

If you were hired from July 1, 2012 to the present

Faculty Members hired July 1, 2012 to the present shall have no ERS deduction taken from the lump sum cash bonus. The lump sum cash bonus will not count toward the “high five” years of salary for purposes of calculating retirement benefits.

Other Faculty Compensation

There are no increases in minimum annual salaries; lecturer fee schedule; non-credit fee schedule, and overload rates per credit hour.

UHPA’s view on the Governor’s 1% lump

This is an unacceptable proposal from the Governor and continues to devalue the work of faculty members. UHPA’s bargaining team has been firm in its opposition to this paltry sum and has expressed this directly to the Governor’s representative.