Friday, March 26, 2004

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a new six-year contract with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly yesterday. Among those present were, from left, state Budget Director Georgina Kawamura, negotiator Galvin Tanaka, negotiating committee Chairwoman Kitty Lagareta and UH President Evan Dobelle.


The deal will cost the state
$124 million and includes a
31% pay increase over six years

The university will pitch in
$39 million, some of which will
likely be funded by tuition increases

Negotiators for the University of Hawaii's faculty union averted a strike yesterday, agreeing to a contract that costs the state $124 million and includes a 31 percent pay increase over six years.

University of Hawaii Under the agreement, the university is expected to pitch in an additional $39 million, some of which will likely come from tuition hikes, during the contract's last three years. The state will cover the remainder, which amounts to about three-fourths of the contract's wage increases.

"This agreement, in our opinion, is going to bring stability to the University of Hawaii," Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday at a news conference that was also attended by faculty union officials, UH President Evan Dobelle and members of the university's Board of Regents.

"It's going to bring certainty to professors, the students, for their parents and for the community," Lingle said.

The term of the contract is the longest in the state's history and "shows a commitment to the university," Lingle said.

The agreement now goes to the UH Professional Assembly's board for approval before going to the union's more than 3,000 members for a ratification vote.

UHPA President Mary Tiles said the raises are not as high as she would have liked, "but it's a start."

The union was asking for a 6 percent increase in the first year and an 8 percent increase in the second year, with an additional 4 percent raise for full professors. The state's last offer was for a two-year contract with raises of 1 percent in the first year and 3 percent in the second year.

Under yesterday's agreement, faculty members would see a 1 percent increase retroactive to July 1, 2003, in the first year; a 3 percent increase on July 1; and a 2 percent raise in 2005. The biggest increases are in the contract's last three years, with a 5 percent hike in 2006, 9 percent in 2007 and an 11 percent jump in the agreement's final year.

"The agreement is a product of hard negotiations," Tiles said. "As in all hard bargaining, everyone has to give something."

She added, "We thought that if we could get the university on a track where the faculty could at least see that we were making some progress in the salary component ... this would be important to the university."

UHPA filed a notice of intent to strike with the Hawaii Labor Relations Board on Feb. 23 and scheduled strike votes for Tuesday and Wednesday. Faculty members were prepared to walk picket lines as early as April 5.

UH faculty last went on strike for 13 days in April 2001. The possibility of another strike drove negotiations, officials said, and brought the parties closer together.

"That was certainly an incentive for us," Lingle said. "It kept us both at the table."

Under the proposed contract, full professors at the university's flagship campus in Manoa would make about $113,384 in 2008, up from $86,553 in 2003.

Also by the contract's end, full professors at UH-Hilo and the system's community colleges -- who now earn from $60,000 to $63,000 a year -- would make about $80,000 annually.

Despite the increases, the salary average for UH professors would be still be about $6,000 shy of the expected 2007 wage median for public universities nationwide.

"I think we went into this with the spirit of not what can we get away with, how little can we get away with, but ... how far can we move toward our goal of paying our faculty the kinds of salaries that they deserve," said Kitty Lagareta of the regents' negotiating committee.

Last night, professors and students were relieved to hear about the agreement. Both groups parted on a one-week spring break Monday with the possibility of a strike still looming over their heads.

"I'm happy that it looks now that there's an agreement that will take away the incentive for a strike," said David Haymer, a biology professor at UH-Manoa. "It's a very good offer."

Kelly Ryan, a student at Windward Community College, got the news from her dad as soon as she walked in the door yesterday afternoon.

"He said, 'Congratulations. They settled,'" Ryan said. "I'm so happy for our teachers."

Talk of higher tuition did not concern Honolulu Community College sophomore Gary Nakamura, who plans to transfer to Manoa in the fall.

"I think students will be open to dialogue and really looking at it," he said. "I don't think it's going to be a real big issue."

A five-year tuition increase schedule was passed by the regents in 2001, increasing tuition by 3 percent annually. The hike brought annual tuition at UH's Manoa, West Oahu and Hilo campuses to $3,504 for the 2005-2006 academic year.

In 2003 the national average for annual tuition at public institutions was $4,675, according to a UH report.

Dobelle said yesterday that a tuition hike would likely come through in September 2006 to coincide with the three years of raises that the university is partly responsible for covering. He said tuition could go up by as much as 10 percent under that hike.

"Any student who is a sophomore at either Hilo or West Oahu or Manoa will graduate without an increase in tuition," he said. "I would still suggest that the University of Hawaii in (2006) ... will be one of the least expensive public universities to attend in the United States."


Highlights of the deal

Raises during the six-year contract

The agreement between negotiators with the University of Hawaii's faculty union and the state runs for six years. Under the proposed contract, professors' salaries will increase by:

>> 1 percent in the first year, retroactive to July 1, 2003.
>> 3 percent in the second year.
>> 2 percent in the third year.
>> 5 percent in the fourth year, of which the state will contribute 4 percent and the university will put in 1 percent.
>> 9 percent in the fifth year, of which the state is responsible for 6 percent.
>> 11 percent in the sixth year, of which the state will contribute 8 percent.

The earnings

What they will make by 2008:

>> Full professors at UH-Manoa, who now earn $86,553 a year, will make $113,384.
>> Full professors at UH-Hilo, who now make $67,603, will earn $88,509.
>> Full professors at community colleges will make $81,347, up from $62,097 in 2003.
>> Full professors at UH-Windward Oahu, who earn $61,292, will make $80,292.
The systemwide average wage for full professors at UH was $77,648 in 2003. In the final year of the contract, that average will be $101,718.

The costs

The contract's cost to the state: $124 million
The contract's cost to the university: $39 million


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