UH, faculty union reach deal
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
A day after its members received their first paychecks reflecting a 6.7 percent pay cut, the University of Hawai'i Professional Assembly announced that a tentative contract agreement had been reached with the University of Hawai'i.
Yesterday's surprise announcement followed a protracted dispute between the university and the 3,500-member faculty union that saw a pay cut imposed as of Jan. 1 by the university's president and a request for a temporary restraining order filed by the union.
Last week, the union membership agreed to return to the bargaining table, and asked to have the negotiations monitored by a federal mediator.
Officials on both sides would not reveal terms of the tentative agreement. The union said the details would be disclosed to union members over the weekend and the agreement would be put to a ratification vote by the UHPA membership beginning Thursday.
However, The Advertiser has learned that the agreement calls for temporary pay reductions of 6.7 percent, effective Jan. 1, with base pay returned to Dec. 31, 2009, levels after 18 months, or as of July 1, 2011. By the end of the contract, terms call for three one-time payments that would return to faculty the amount of the pay reduction they sustained during those 18 months, as well as 3 percent pay raises in 2013 and 2014.
The tentative contract does not include furlough days.
The UHPA pact comes in the wake of deals reached by the state's largest public worker unions, the Hawaii State Teachers Association and the Hawaii Government Employees Association. Those agreements include a combination of furloughs and pay cuts to help reduce the state's budget deficit.
"I am pleased that we have reached a tentative settlement with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly," UH President M.R.C. Greenwood said yesterday in a brief statement. "Until UHPA briefs its members, no details of the tentative settlement will be shared. I want to thank federal mediator Carol Catanzariti and members of the respective negotiating teams for all their hard work in reaching a tentative settlement."
UHPA spokesman Nathan Hokama said an agreement was reached earlier in the week between the university and the union's collective bargaining committee. Yesterday, in a special meeting, the union's full board of directors voted to seek approval of the tentative agreement through a ratification vote by its membership.
Hokama said he did not know the details of the agreement. But he hinted that the apparent turnaround between the union and the administration was in part because the unilaterally imposed faculty salary cuts kicked in Friday, while the Circuit Court had not responded to the union's motion for a restraining order.
"This weekend, they will be issuing the actual tentative agreement so that members can see what it's all about," Hokama said.
He said members would receive the details electronically, although he was unsure when.
"If the members do ratify the agreement, then that will basically be the new contract that replaces the existing one," he said.
The ratification vote will be conducted electronically, starting Thursday at noon and ending at 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 26, Hokama said.
The union's previous contract with the university ran through June 2009.
Gov. Linda Lingle has no authority to order furloughs or layoffs at the university because it is governed by an independent board. Instead, she imposed a budget cut and left it to the university to achieve the savings.
The university took the lead on the negotiations for the state, but Lingle will have to sign off on a new faculty contract.