Wrongfully Fired University of Hawaii-West Oahu Professor Gets Her Job Back
Date: January 8, 2015
Contact: Kris Hanselman (808) 593-2157
Historic Landmark Arbitration Has National Implications for Faculty Union Agreements
Monique Mironesco, Ph.D., an associate professor of political science at University of Hawaii-West Oahu (UHWO) for the past decade, is happy to resume teaching this semester, thanks to the intervention of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA), the faculty union, and her colleagues, both UHWO faculty and administrators.
Mironesco’s successful career would have come to an abrupt end had she not filed a grievance. Seeing the grave injustice, others readily stepped forward for her support, including UHWO administrators, who typically are on the other side of the table opposing faculty rights.
These administrators included Gene Awakuni, Ph.D., former chancellor at UH-West Oahu; and Linda Johnsrud, Ph.D., former vice-chancellor for academic affairs at UH-West Oahu and former executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at UH-Manoa.
Also testifying in Mironesco’s favor were Louis Herman, Ph.D., a political science colleague at UH-West Oahu; Joseph Mobley, Ph.D., former vice-chancellor for academic affairs at UH-West Oahu and currently professor of the UH-Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene; and Neva Jacquelyn Kilpatrick, Ph.D., former chancellor for academic affairs at UH-West Oahu.
“The gravity of this case moved both faculty and administrators to come to Mironesco’s defense,” said J. N. Musto, UHPA’s executive director and chief negotiator. “It shows meritocracy, doing good work, still prevails. It has restored the faith of faculty who have felt completely helpless against the whims of administrators. Those who try to make up their own rules cannot always get away with it.”
Mironesco’s Landmark Case
Mironesco’s landmark case is a story of what can happen without contractual safeguards in place to protect against unfair labor practices. She had an outstanding track record at UHWO and served as an advocate for those in underserved communities – all while serving in a temporary position.
When a permanent position became available, a new administrator circumvented the contract terms and wanted to conduct a nationwide search to fill the position, instead of offering the position to Mironesco, who had proven she was more than capable of the position’s requirements.
An 18-month battle ensued that led to arbitration, which concluded UHWO did not honor the terms in the agreement, and that there is no separation between a position and a person. This is in keeping with the intent of the current collective bargaining agreement that extends to June 2015.
The final decision: No national search, and Mironesco should be restored to her rightful position at UHWO, thanks to the provisions negotiated in the UHPA contract and the overwhelming support from administrators and faculty.
Mironesco started as a lecturer in the social sciences division at UHWO in 2002, and had been promoted twice over the past 10 years. Mironesco was promoted to assistant professor in 2007, and promoted again to associate professor in 2012 in no small part due to her work building the Social Sciences program and integration of service-learning programs that collaborated with Ma`o farms on the North Shore. She accomplished all of this even though she had been in a temporary position.
Despite her positive track record, Mironesco found her job was in jeopardy. She received a notice from the UHWO administration in September 2013 that because her appointment was temporary, her job would end on July 31, 2014. The temporary status meant she was not on a tenured, permanent track.
“It was clearly a case of discrimination as other temporary positions were not terminated,” Musto said. “It was also a violation of our collective bargaining agreement, which allows the person in a temporary, non-tenure position to continue to serve in a converted, permanent, tenure-track position on a probationary status.”
With a permanent, tenure-track position available, Mironesco’s treatment violated the provisions of the contract, which states that the person who serves for seven years or more in a temporary position that receives 75% funding from the state’s general fund should automatically assume the permanent, tenure-track position when it becomes available.
“This provision is designed to safeguard against misuse of those in temporary positions who have demonstrated their professionalism and dedication,” Musto said.
Adding insult to the injury and as a way to make it difficult for recourse, UHWO administrators decided to instead create two tenure-track positions outside of political science, one for anthropology and another for economics, for the academic year 2014-2015.
“This has been a major victory for Dr. Mironesco and all faculty, but we know that we must continue to closely monitor this situation to ensure UHWO administration follows through with implementing this win and adheres to the terms of the contract,” Musto said.
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About the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly
The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) represents nearly 4000 faculty members at 10 campuses in the University of Hawaii system statewide. It has been the exclusive bargaining agent for all UH faculty since 1974.