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UH seeks to delay faculty paychecks by 1 day to save cash


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POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2009

The University of Hawaii administration is negotiating with the faculty union to save $12 million this fiscal year through a delay in issuing paychecks.

If the administration and the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly can agree, unionized faculty members would see their June 30, 2010, paycheck pushed back to July 1, when the 2011 fiscal year begins. They will also likely see their paychecks pushed back a day for the next four pay periods.

The move is not unprecedented. In 1998 the Cayetano administration put into effect a five-day delay in paychecks—called a payroll lag—for three other public worker unions, for a one-time savings of about $51 million.

The Legislature passed a bill authorizing the lag, but UHPA filed a lawsuit in federal court and blocked the practice for its members.

Faculty members are divided on the lag now.

“;Essentially what it amounts to is a five-day salary cut,”; said David Ross, a math professor at the Manoa campus.

Klaus Keil, a scientist at the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, said he prefers the lag to further cuts to the budget.

“;It's a painless way of saving,”; Keil said. “;You get it (the pay) back in the end.”;

Faculty union members are now paid on the 15th and last days of each month.

The delay would push paychecks back for a day each pay period starting June 30, 2010, until Sept. 20. After that, paydays would be switched to the 5th and 20th, similar to nonunion state workers and members of the Hawaii Government Employees Association, United Public Workers and Hawaii State Teachers Association, who accepted the pay delays in 1998.

But J.N. Musto, executive director of UHPA, said the union opposes the delays because they will mean less pay for members during a calendar year.

“;It is like taking an additional 5 percent pay cut in the year it is taken,”; Musto said yesterday in an e-mail.

The federal court in 1998 “;did find that the payroll lag had a substantial financial impact,”; Musto said. “;It would impact the individual's ability to meet mortgages, loans and other payments during that year.”;

Musto also noted that Gov. Ben Cayetano cut the UH budget by $7 million after UHPA won its case.

“;Since UH has already suffered this 'loss,' we are not anxious to now give it up for yet another reduction,”; he said.

Howard Todo, UH system chief financial officer, declined to comment on the proposal, because of contract negotiations.

The Board of Regents was briefed on the UH budget, including the pay proposal, at its monthly meeting yesterday.

In a statement to the board, UHPA urged regents to let the Legislature, not Gov. Linda Lingle, decide the level of budget cuts for the university.

UHPA said Lingle's proposed restrictions “;are so severe that they rise to a level of public policy that should not be determined simply through the unilateral decision of the governor to restrict appropriations.”;