Thursday, July 15, 1999

University of Hawaii

UH faculty pay lag
violates rights, court says

Associated Press


SAN FRANCISCO -- The state of Hawaii's decision to save money by delaying its employees' paydays appears to violate the rights of University of Hawaii teachers, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's injunction last year that barred the state from imposing the delay on university faculty, the only employees to challenge it.

The injunction remains in effect until the lawsuit is resolved. The state's budget director said last year that it would cost the state $7 million.

About 3,100 faculty members are affected at all campuses, including community colleges, said their lawyer, T. Anthony Gill.

The state's 1997 "pay lag" law gradually moved paydays later in each month, in six steps. The change allowed the state to pay workers for work already done, rather than for work anticipated in the next period, and was intended to save the state $51 million in the first year.

The law took effect last July for all state employees except university teachers. The Hawaii Government Employees Association said it preferred the pay delay to layoffs that could be required if the state had to find the money elsewhere.

Upholding a ruling by U.S. District Judge Alan Kay, the appeals court said the teachers were likely to prove that the delay imposed by the state was an unconstitutional interference with their work contracts.

For more than 25 years, the state has paid its employees on the 15th and last days of each month, a practice that has become an implicit part of their union contracts, said Judge Barry Silverman in the 3-0 ruling. He said the new law upset that practice and prohibited labor-management negotiations about the timing of worker pay.

The teachers "have the right to relay on the timely receipt of their paychecks," Silverman wrote. "Even a brief delay in getting paid can cause financial embarrassment and displacement."

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