Tuesday, October 5, 1999

University of Hawaii

More power sought
for UH regents

By Susan Kreifels


Giving less power to the governor and more autonomy to University of Hawaii regents are top priorities for the UH Professional Assembly, union officials said yesterday.

That will mean changing the law to take the governor's negotiators, who have the most votes, out of the collective-bargaining process, they said. The union also will push to lengthen the regents' terms. They now are appointed by the governor for four years.

"The governor's got the power, what he says goes," said John Radcliffe, UHPA associate executive director. "We think the Board of Regents ought to have their side of the table and we ought to have ours."

Union officials met with Star-Bulletin editors yesterday.

Tony Gill, union attorney, said UH regents serve the shortest terms in the nation and have the least power and autonomy. In California, for example, they serve 12-year terms, outlasting anyone who appoints them. In other states they are elected.

The UHPA comments come when the relationship between Gov. Ben Cayetano and faculty members has become "dysfunctional," Radcliffe said.

Under Cayetano, UH's funding dropped from 13 percent to 8 percent of the state's general budget, Radcliffe said. While UHPA was the first union to endorse the governor in the 1994 election, last year faculty members voted 6-1 to support Republican Linda Lingle for governor.

Last week, UHPA filed a prohibited practice charge against Davis Yogi with the Office of Collective Bargaining, who conducted negotiations with UHPA for the state and the university. The union claims the state has not bargained in good faith.

Yogi has asserted that the agreement between the UHPA and Board of Regents, which expired June 30, contained language that was no longer in the scope of bargaining, such as sabbaticals and other leaves.

To deal with the state's budget crisis, the union proposed in May that the 1995-99 agreement be extended for two years with no increase in salaries, but Cayetano rejected the offer, according to UHPA.

"He's making us pay the price," Radcliffe said.

Gill blamed the problem on Cayetano's reluctance to work out problems and accept ideas not his own.

J.N. Musto, UHPA executive director, however, charged that Cayetano was racist. "He hates haoles," Musto said. "He has no choice but to be governor to all the people, not just those who endorsed him or the ones he likes."

Cayetano declined to comment on UHPA proposals or his relationship with the union.

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