UH president warns of layoffs and aid cuts


POSTED: Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If the University of Hawaii does not get pay concessions from the faculty union, layoffs and cuts in student financial aid are “;potentially on the table,”; UH President M.R.C. Greenwood said.

Greenwood announced yesterday that negotiations with the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly are at an impasse and that UH will unilaterally cut faculty salaries by 6.667 percent for 18 months beginning Friday.

“;We're asking faculty to join us as we tighten our belt,”; Greenwood said, adding that the cuts, which will save $24 million, are necessary to deal with $154 million in general fund budget cuts over two years. “;We just don't have the money.”;

The faculty contract ran from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2009. The university says the contract expired.

In a written statement, UHPA Executive Director J.N. Musto suggested the union would go to court to block the pay cuts.

“;We are poised to take the necessary and deliberate action needed to ensure UH keeps its word by honoring the contract,”; Musto said.





        The “;last, best final offer”; to University of Hawaii faculty that the university is implementing calls for:

» A temporary salary reduction of 6.667 percent until June 30, 2011.


» A 5 percent reduction in fees for lecturers.


» Restoration of pay to current levels on July 1, 2011.


» No pay cuts for faculty paid entirely with nonappropriated funds, such as grants.


» Establishment of minimum salaries for faculty by rank, which will result in pay increases for about 135 people.


» A “;payroll lag”; on June 30 that will shift one paycheck into the next fiscal year and delay the pay period by one day each following month for five days. Faculty are now paid on the 15th and 30th of each month. After the payroll lag, checks will be issued on the 5th and 20th.


» Faculty who retire before June 30 will not have their pay reduced.


» Partial UH scholarships for dependents of faculty members.


» No layoffs due to budget restrictions for the next 18 months.


Source: University of Hawaii


The university's action is “;not only a breach of contract, but also shows blatant disrespect for the negotiated agreement and the faculty,”; he said.

Greenwood said the university's attorneys disagree with UHPA's interpretation of contract wording that the union says keeps the contract — and current pay rates — in effect until a new agreement is reached.

If the court upholds the pay cuts, the faculty could go out on strike, Greenwood said.

But she said it is too early to say whether that will happen.

“;I have the greatest confidence in our faculty,”; Greenwood said. “;I think most of our faculty understand what is going on in the state.”;

The negotiations with UHPA have been going on for 15 months, and Greenwood said last week that UH updated its “;last, best final offer”; to the union to include the 6.667 percent pay cut over 18 months.

UH had previously asked for a 5 percent pay cut over two years beginning July 1.

She said administrators have taken 6 to 10 percent pay cuts and that the Hawaii Government Employees Association workers agreed to take temporary 5 percent pay cuts over two years. The university is also trying to cut electricity bills and other expenses and is using federal stimulus money and about $20 million a year from tuition increases to balance the budget.

But Greenwood said about 75 to 80 percent of the university's general fund budget is used to pay employees.

“;I think you can do math,”; she said when asked whether the university would have to lay off employees if the pay cut is blocked.

“;Everything would have to be looked at,”; she said.

Greenwood also said she could not rule out reducing financial aid for students to balance the budget.

;[Preview]    UH professors will see more than 6.5% pay cut

UH President MRC Greenwood says she plans to cut the salaries of most professors by more than 6.5% starting Jan. 1.

Watch ]


When the Board of Regents approved a tuition increase, then-UH President David McClain promised that 20 percent, or about $4 million, generated each year from the higher tuition would go toward more financial aid for students.

That money is preserved under the university's current financial plan, which includes the faculty pay cuts.

There are about 3,700 faculty represented by UHPA who work at the 10 UH campuses.

The university said the average salary for a faculty member is about $84,000 a year. The median salary is $79,671. The cut would amount to an average of $5,600 annually, starting with the first paycheck next year on Jan. 15.