University of Hawaii faces union pay-cut grievance
By Rob Perez
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Hawai'i faculty union yesterday filed a grievance seeking to stop salary cuts unilaterally imposed by the administration until the matter can be resolved through arbitration.
The University of Hawai'i Professional Assembly hand-delivered the grievance to UH President M.R.C. Greenwood and demanded that she rescind the contract changes, including a 6.7 percent wage reduction for most faculty, that took effect Friday. The changes are expected to first show up in mid-January paychecks.
Citing an impasse in labor negotiations, Greenwood last week said the university would cut salaries as part of the administration's "last, best, final offer."
"We filed this class grievance on behalf of UH faculty because of UH President Greenwood's clear breach of contract," J.N. Musto, UHPA executive director and chief negotiator, said in a written statement. "We believe it is only fair to ask for immediate arbitration and to hold UH President Greenwood's unilateral imposition of salary reductions for UH faculty until we can have an arbitration decision."
Greenwood, in a statement, disputed the union's allegation that her actions constituted a breach of contract. She said the grievance was being reviewed by UH attorneys and a response would be provided to UHPA by this afternoon.
"Our preference remains to reach a negotiated settlement, but such a settlement must address the university's significant budget shortfalls this year and next," Greenwood said.
A UHPA spokesman said the union would consider its options if Greenwood doesn't agree to immediate arbitration and hold off on the contract changes. The union has said it would go to court if necessary to protect the rights of faculty.
Greenwood last week said she was going to impose the salary reductions because of the impasse and because time was running out to reduce the school's budget. If the salary cuts were not instituted, layoffs and other actions would have to be considered, she added.
The faculty contract expired June 30, but the union, citing a previous arbitration ruling, maintains that the labor agreement remains in effect until a new one is signed and that any changes must be negotiated.
UHPA had proposed accepting pay cuts in the first two years of a four-year contract in exchange for guaranteed increases in the final two years.
The unilateral changes, which include a payroll lag and reduction in health care contributions, amount to more than a 15 percent cut in faculty pay, the union said.