Advertisement - Click to support our sponsors.

Monday, January 29, 2001

University of Hawaii

UH faculty
could go on
strike April 2

A statewide walkout looms
if a tentative agreement is
not in place by March

By Suzanne Tswei

About 3,100 faculty at all 10-campuses of the University of Hawaii system may walk off their jobs as early as April 2 if a tentative labor agreement is not reached by March, said J.N. Musto, the faculty union executive director.

Musto announced the possible strike at a news conference this morning. He said the board of directors of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly set the possible strike timetable to give graduating students the most time to complete their work.

"We didn't want to do it too soon so that it would drag out to make it impossible for those who are graduating to finish the semester. If we are going to strike, we want it to be short enough of a duration that would allow people to graduate," Musto said in an interview before the news conference. However, he acknowledged today that graduation for some students could be delayed by a strike.

University administrators have formed a committee to make contingency plans in case of a strike. "Should a work stoppage occur, our goal will be to keep campuses open and operating as normally as possible," said university spokesman Jim Manke.

Musto said if the faculty strikes in early April, the students would have completed nearly all their semester work before school ends in May. Also, he said, the timetable would allow enough time for legislators to approve a new contract for the faculty.

"There would still be a month left in the Legislature session. If anything could be worked out, there still would be enough time for legislators to consider the details of that contract," Musto said. If an agreement occurs later, legislators would not have sufficient time and "the faculty will be out in the cold for yet another year," he said.

The faculty has been working without a contract since June 1999, Musto said.

Davis Yogi, chief state labor negotiator, said although the two sides have not met for talks, he has been working to resolve the differences.

The state and the faculty union disagree over across-the-board pay raises. While the union is asking for pay raise for all members, the state is offering merit pay raises for selected individuals. The sides also disagree over workload for community college faculty.

Today was the first day the faculty could have gone on strike after a 60-day cooling off period. Yogi said the union must provide a 10-day notice before a strike can occur. Musto said that, without a tentative agreement, the union will conduct a strike authorization vote in March.

Last week the union filed four complaints with the Hawaii Labor Relations board charging that the university has been undermining the collective bargaining process.

The complaints allege the university has authorized the hiring of distance-learning faculty to teach on-line courses, "designed to bleed away work within the jurisdiction of the union." Such practice would result in less pay and benefits, Musto said.

The university, specifically at Kapiolani Community College, has drawn up a new faculty classification that dictates lower wages and heavier workloads than current standards, he said. Administrators at the Manoa campus also have excluded the union from pay negations by negotiating merit pay directly with the faculty.

In addition, top administrators at the community colleges are proposing to reorganize the colleges without consulting the union as is required, Musto said.

Manke denied the union's charges that the administration is violating the contract.

University of Hawaii
UH Professional Assembly

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin