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UHPA’s 42nd Year! It’s 2016

UHPA will reach 42 years as the exclusive representative of UH faculty members in 2016. It’s a perfect year to prepare for significant challenges that were never contemplated when the collective bargaining adventure began. There’s a number of activities that will demand the most attention and effort from UHPA members, leaders and staff.

Bargaining a New Contract

Bargaining will commence in mid-2016 on a successor agreement. The environment will be different from what UHPA has experienced in the past. All 14 public sector contracts expire in 2017. UHPA has had multiyear contracts for 14 years and some degree of labor peace since the 2001 strike. Now the competition for resources shifts with a legislature and Governor who have been responsible for approving decreasing state revenue for the University of Hawai‘i.   UHPA’s bargaining committee has begun to meet and soon the Impasse Committee will be assessing what’s needed if there is a bargaining crisis. Stay tuned.

Defunding Public Sector Unions–Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association

On January 11, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Friedrichs v California Teachers Association. This case seeks to disallow unions from collecting a service fee or “fair share” for representation from those public employees who choose not to join the union. In Hawai‘i, faculty members who choose not to join UHPA currently pay an amount equal to the costs of collective bargaining. In the Friedrichs’ case, the plaintiffs argue that collective bargaining is a political activity and a requirement to pay a service fee is a violation of the First Amendment.

Designed to Weaken Public Sector Unions

This case is designed to significantly weaken all public sector unions by claiming you don’t have to pay a thing to receive the benefits of the contract. It is a veiled attempt to cripple UHPA and other public sector unions and threatens the rights and protections of our members that are only achieved through collective bargaining. These rights include tenure and promotion procedures, academic freedom, rights to intellectual property, salary protections for temporary faculty, and a grievance procedure ending in binding arbitration.

Preparations Have Begun

The leadership and staff are already preparing alternative approaches to maintaining the organizations capacity should the court ruling significantly alter Hawai‘i law.

Reach Out – Knowledge is Strength

Please make sure your colleagues are UHPA members. Maybe they’re new and need some encouragement or maybe they don’t know they aren’t a member. Send them to where they can sign up online or call UHPA at 593-2157.

The 2016 Legislature

It all begins on January 20 when the Hawai‘i legislature convenes. It’s an election year so there will be much attention paid to fiscal restraint with few major policy changes. For faculty member’s items to watch are EUTF and ERS. Attempts to move more general funds to the reserve accounts are likely. This further diminishes the amount of general fund dollars that could go for other purposes like public higher education and collective bargaining compensation.

We Advocate

And there may be necessary statutory changes to Chapter 89 Collective Bargaining due to a Supreme Court decision in the Friedrichs’ case. We wait—we assess options—we advocate for the best language that keeps UHPA advocacy strong.

Workforce Housing; Childcare and Childcare Leave; Distance and On-Line Learning

Three areas that both UHPA and UH administration agreed upon are key in recruitment and retention of employees along with ever-changing technology and its impact on instruction and working conditions.  Workgroups established to further explore these areas are the result of the current contract between UHPA and UH.  Both organizations each have three representatives on each committee. They are tasked with identifying potential solutions to establish affordable housing and adequate family leave policies and childcare facilities. Reports are due January 2017.

UHPA committee representatives will be seeking input from all UHPA members. Watch for their requests and on-line discussion sites for UHPA members.