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Signing of Two-Year Faculty Agreement Marks A New Milestone in Collective Bargaining

When UHPA, Gov. Neil Abercrombie, the UH Board of Regents and the UH administration announced in late June 2014 that they had reached a tentative two-year agreement, a year before the current faculty contract was to set to expire in June 2015, it raised a new bar for collective bargaining in Hawaii.

It was the first time a public sector successor contract had been reached so far in advance. The UHPA Board of Directors unanimously voted in favor of ratifying the tentative agreement and the nearly 4,000 Bargaining Unit 7 members across the 10 UH campuses subsequently ratified the contract via electronic vote on August 24, 2014.

This past Monday, November 3, the all of the parties involved in the negotiation that led to the unprecedented agreement convened to officially sign the two-year agreement.

The agreement was signed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, J.N. Musto, UHPA Executive Director and Chief Negotiator; and David Duffy, UHPA President; David Lassner, UH President; John Morton, UH Vice President for Community Colleges; and Jan Sullivan, Vice Chair of the UH Board of Regents.

The Governor gave special recognition to John Radcliffe, who has been instrumental in negotiations over the years.  Before launching his own company, Radcliffe had served 17 years as Executive Director of the Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) and seven years as Associate Executive Director under J.N. Musto with UHPA.

The event at the State Capitol underscored what can be accomplished when there is a collaboration, mutual respect and a desire to uphold the spirit of collective bargaining, as envisioned in Chapter 89 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, said J.N. Musto. This was Musto’s last contract before his planned retirement in August 2015.

Gov. Abercrombie, whose term officially ends in January 2015, said in a quivering voice that the contract represents his 55-year relationship with the UH. He noted that he had been in contract negotiations for UH faculty since he first came to Hawaii as a lecturer and graduate student at UH-Manoa.

The Governor added that four years ago, the state faced unfunded liabilities and a budget deficit, and the agreement represents a positive turnaround in the state’s fiscal picture.

The agreement includes an across-the-board 4 percent increase for all UH faculty and lecturers on July 1, 2015 and another across-the-board 4 percent increase the following year. It will also address minimum salaries and the increased employer contributions to the health insurance premiums provided through the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund. The projected total for this contract is $32 million.

Funding for the agreement must be approved in the upcoming legislative session, which ends in early May 2015, a month before the current faculty contract expires on June 30, 2015.

As part of the agreement, three working task forces are being established to address issues of workforce housing, childcare and child care leave, and distance and online learning.