UH faculty union leaders want 'final offer' rejected


POSTED: Friday, September 18, 2009

Union leaders are urging about 3,200 University of Hawaii professors and instructors to reject the administration's latest pay cut offer.

The proposal, dubbed by the UH administration its “;last, best and final offer,”; would cut 5 percent from salaries, institute a payroll lag reducing the number of annual paychecks from 24 to 23 and increase the employee's share of medical insurance costs.

UH faculty just completed a labor contract that saw pay raises of 7 percent in 2007 and 11 percent in 2008. Although the contract has expired, it remains in force as long as the union and the state are bargaining for a new contract.

Duane Stevens, University of Hawaii Professional Assembly president, said in a posting on the UHPA Web site yesterday that the union feels UH “;is no longer willing to seek compromise.”;

“;The employer is telling union members either to accept this offer or have it unilaterally imposed upon them,”; Stevens wrote.

UH officials said the union's recommendation was “;disappointing.”;

“;We face at least a $154 million shortfall in our budgets over the next two years,”; said John Morton, UH chief negotiator, who added that UH is experiencing a record enrollment increase.

On Sept. 3 Morton wrote to UHPA, saying, “;We appear to be in another deadlock in our negotiations.”;

The union is telling faculty members that if they accept the UH offer, it will cut their salary, but if they vote against it, “;you will keep the current 2003-2009 contract with no salary reductions.”;

The union will conduct an online vote of UHPA members to seek guidance on whether to accept the offer, although the UHPA bargaining committee is urging a “;no”; vote.

Union sources say that the union fears that UH will implement the wage cuts anyway and that action could trigger a strike action among UH faculty.

Neither side would comment on the record about the new contract stalemate.