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Contract uncertainty prompts call for more cuts at UH-Manoa


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POSTED: Thursday, September 24, 2009

University of Hawaii at Manoa colleges and departments are being asked to cut up to 6 percent more from their budgets because faculty labor contracts have not yet been settled.

The budget cut comes on top of a 4 percent cut to most UH-Manoa departments imposed in June to make up for a $66 million budget cut imposed by the governor and the Legislature.

Those cuts have already led to fewer and more crowded classes and the loss of lecturers and other positions.

UH-Manoa Vice Chancellor for Administration Kathy Cutshaw told faculty and staff at a budget briefing yesterday the departments were asked last month to take the additional 6 percent cuts because it looked like contract negotiations between the university and the faculty union were breaking down.

Last week, leaders of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly urged faculty members to reject the UH administration's “;last, best and final offer,”; which includes a 5 percent pay cut and an increase in the employee's share of medical insurance costs.

Cutshaw said the university had planned on saving about $14 million annually through reduced labor costs. Cutshaw said unless there are cuts in payroll, the university will have a $19 million shortfall in two years even with the additional cuts to UH-Manoa departments.

At the budget briefing yesterday on campus, faculty complained that the administration hasn't done enough to fight the cuts that one faculty member said could lead to “;the imminent cannibalization of the university.”;

“;It (the budget cut) is not fair. It is not right. It must be questioned,”; said UH-Manoa Professor Meda Chesney-Lind.

Several faculty members questioned why UH-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw wasn't at the briefing and some urged that Hinshaw's job and additional administration jobs be eliminated.

David Stannard, chairman of the American Studies Department, said faculty might approve a salary cut if there were an assurance that there would be no layoffs during the contract period.

“;We do not have and no one here feels they have a magic solution to the budget,”; said Reed Dasenbrock, UH-Manoa vice chancellor for academic affairs. “;We want to have as many ideas as possible.”;