UHPA will fight pay cut in court, director says


POSTED: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly said yesterday that the union is “;fully prepared”; to go to court and defend a clause in its contract that would prevent the administration from cutting faculty salaries.

“;Our current contract is designed to remain in effect until a new one takes its place,”; UHPA Executive Director J.N. Musto said in an e-mail yesterday.

In a letter posted on the UH Web site on Monday, UH President M.R.C. Greenwood suggested the university would impose a 6.667 percent salary cut on faculty Jan. 1 to help meet a $154 million general fund budget cut and an additional 13.8 percent cut next year.

Greenwood's letter is “;disturbing, but not surprising,”; Musto said. “;The UH administration has consistently attempted to circumvent the collective bargaining process, and the UH administration's latest edict is yet another example of this.”;

Musto said the university's reputation and ability to attract high-caliber faculty will be hurt by salary cuts.

“;Attempting to cut UH faculty salaries to meet the budget shortfall will cut our nose to spite our face,”; Musto said. “;It is short-sighted and self-destructive. We will have more to lose than to gain.”;

Musto said the union has not seen any attempt by Greenwood to keep faculty salaries competitive.

“;She has not served as an advocate for the UH system,”; he said. “;Ultimately, we need a president with vision, who can set a strong direction for the UH and who is willing to support the faculty in word and deed.”;

In her letter yesterday, Greenwood said the faculty agreed to a 5 percent pay cut over two years but proposed restoration of salary and 7.5 percent increases in pay each of the following two years.

UH offered to restore pay after two years and reopen negotiations for salary increases for the third and fourth years of the contract.

The union rejected UH's informal offer.

“;The university simply does not have the money to meet UHPA's expectations during the current funding crisis,”; Greenwood said.

UH hopes to save $22 million a year through salary reductions. Hawaii Government Employees Association members agreed to a 5 percent cut, which will save $7.4 million. Non-union executives also took pay cuts of between 6 percent and 10 percent to save $2 million.

The university and state have not reached agreement with the United Public Workers and UHPA.

UH has proposed a payroll lag for UHPA members on June 30, which would push one paycheck into the next fiscal year beginning July 1. That would reduce salary spending this fiscal year by about $12 million.

UH faculty received a 7 percent raise in 2007 and an 11 percent raise last year under a six-year contract that raised salaries by about 31 percent.

The median salary for faculty members at the 10-campus UH system is $79,671, according to the university. The median at UH-Manoa is $91,200 and it is $68,613 at the community colleges.