Rancor grows asGov. Ben Cayetano says the threat of a strike by University of Hawaii professors will have no bearing on his stand on pay increases and other labor disputes with the faculty union.
Cayetano stands pat
on UH faculty pay
The governor questions whether
workloads are being met
By Suzanne Tswei
Contract talks between the state and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly (UHPA) broke off in November, and no formal talks have been scheduled.
As of yesterday, the impasse continued, although both sides say they are willing to resume talks.
UHPA announced Monday that a strike across the 10-campus system, involving as many as 3,000 faculty members, may occur as early as April 2.
The faculty has been working without a contract since June 1999, and UHPA plans to take a strike vote if a tentative settlement is not reached in March.
J.N. Musto, UHPA's executive director and chief negotiator, said Cayetano has the sole power to decide on a settlement, thereby preventing a strike.
However, Cayetano said: "I never got elected to run popularity contests; I got elected to do what is right.
"The fact that a strike may make me or this administration unpopular has no weight in my decisions," he said this week.
A strike in early April would allow enough time for graduating students to finish most of their semester's work, Musto said. However, a walkout still may prevent students from fulfilling their requirements and graduating as planned.
The state disagrees with the union over across-the-board pay raises, offering instead merit pay for individual faculty to be decided by the UH Board of Regents. They also disagree over workloads for faculty at the community colleges.
In response to UHPA's strike threat, Cayetano this week questioned whether faculty members at Manoa are meeting the required workload. On average, UH-Manoa faculty members teach three classes a semester, in addition to research and other duties.
But, Cayetano told reporters, "I receive word that a university professor is teaching two classes and going to University of Hawaii law school at the same time. Well, those kinds of things have to be looked at."
Musto took Cayetano's comment as "a personal attack on Susan Hippensteele," an associate professor in the women's studies program.
Hippensteele, who received her Ph.D. in psychology from UH, generated controversy in the 1990s after accusing one of her faculty advisers of sexual harassment. In 1992 she was hired as UH's first sex equity specialist, the point person on sexual harassment allegations on the campuses.
Last year, Hippensteele quit her job, saying the university limited her authority and access to decision-makers.
After her resignation, Hippensteele joined the women's studies program last fall while also attending law school, which she had begun three years ago.
Musto said she is now teaching three classes and also is engaged in research, committee and other work as part of her faculty position. Considering the entire scope of her work, Hippensteele is meeting the requirements of a full-time faculty member, he said.
Last fall, she was required to teach three classes but taught only two because a third class was canceled due to low enrollment. This semester, she is required to teach only two classes but is teaching a third one to make up for last semester's cancellation, she said.
"For (Cayetano) to use teaching load as an example to show whether faculty is working is so shortsighted," Hippensteele said. "It shows he's out of touch with the faculty on campus."
Attending law school is counted as research for her faculty position, Hippensteele said, because one of her classes focuses on women's law-related issues. She also maintains that her law school studies do not interfere with her faculty duties.
The university administration also balked at her being able to teach full time and going to law school. After Hippensteele filed a grievance with the union, she was allowed to do both.
Nancy Davis Lewis, acting dean of the UH College of Social Sciences, said Hippensteele is "a highly capable and energetic individual," and evidence indicates she is meeting her faculty requirements.
In addition to workloads, Cayetano questioned whether the number of faculty has decreased in proportion to the drop in student enrollment.
Musto said the faculty has decreased by 10 percent since 1995, when there were 3,330 members in the bargaining unit.
Cayetano also questioned whether the university is being run efficiently, and said "part of the problem is maybe the management has been a little shoddy -- the management from the department-chair level."
Musto said department chairs are union members and not managers. The deans of the colleges are the managers responsible for supervision of the university and its personnel, he said.
Ka Leo O Hawaii
University of Hawaii