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UH faculty voting on 'final offer'


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Results of an advisory vote by University of Hawaii faculty members are expected to be announced tomorrow morning.

The UH faculty union is urging members to vote no on the administration's "last, best, final offer," which calls for a 5 percent pay cut, a payroll lag and higher health insurance payments for faculty.

University of Hawaii Professional Assembly members have until midnight tonight to vote on the offer.

Faculty members are also planning a "teach-in" today at the UH-Manoa campus to talk about the contract and the budget crisis at the university.

In an e-mail shortly after the vote was announced, UHPA Executive Director J.N. Musto said the UH administration has told the union that the contract would be imposed on members.

But Musto said an "evergreen clause" prevents the administration from changing the terms of the expired contract until both sides agree on a new contract.

UH spokeswoman Carolyn Tanaka would not comment on the administration's next step, should the union refuse to accept the "final offer."

However, administrators at the 10 UH campuses are planning on further budget cuts that will mean fewer classes and more crowded classes in the spring, fewer lecturers and possible layoffs.

The university is being forced to cut its general fund budget after the governor and the Legislature reduced state spending on higher education.

UH was counting on saving $22 million a year from employee salaries and on a one-time $12 million accounting savings this fiscal year from the payroll lag, which would push a paycheck into the next fiscal year.

"If we don't get some relief in salaries to meet the $198 million shortfall over the next two years, educational opportunities for our students will be affected," said John Morton, UH vice president for community colleges, in an e-mailed statement.

Faculty, however, question why the administration is not being more active in fighting the budget cuts.

"This is not the last, this is not the best and nothing is final," the union said to its members in a video posted on YouTube.

The union said it offered to loan the university money to get through the financial crisis and asked the administration to freeze executive hires.

"Instead, the deal they've handed us is this: Take a pay cut so we can balance our books, and we'll leave the door open to lay off even more faculty," the union video said. "That deal is not acceptable."