Friday, April 6, 2001


UH assistant professor of psychology Robert Randall, with his dog
Pualani, temporarily blocked a car trying to get into a parking
lot on the Manoa campus yesterday.

Striking UH
faculty to picket
athletic events

Contract talks could
resume this weekend

By Treena Shapiro

With no new contract negotiations scheduled, the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly returned to the picket lines today, determined to stay at the Manoa campus through the evening to discourage sports fans from attending athletic events this weekend.

J.N. Musto, UHPA's executive director, said faculty will be picketing the entrances to the lower campus parking over the weekend, including tonight and tomorrow night's final home volleyball games and baseball games tomorrow and Sunday. Tickets will be refunded on a mail-in basis, according to the UH athletic department.

UHPA HSTA strike logo Musto was contacted by the federal mediator to resume negotiations with the state, but as of this morning, another session had not been scheduled. He said he expects negotiations to resume over the weekend.

Yesterday, faculty striking for better salaries effectively crippled the university system but could not bring about a complete shutdown.

Some 720 nonunion lecturers and graduate students reported to work as required, as well as some 160 faculty deemed essential workers, primarily in medicine, nursing and cancer research.

The faculty union rejected the state's offer Wednesday to raise faculty salaries by 9 percent over two years, with an additional 2 percent in merit. UHPA has continued to ask for 12 percent increases, also with 2 percent in merit.

Kauai Community College was the only campus to report complete union faculty participation, but community college faculty overall brought the total number of credit courses taught to under 10 percent, the university said.

At the UH-Manoa campus, despite pickets discouraging drivers from entering the campus at all gates, about 12 percent of 2,043 union faculty legally authorized to strike chose instead to report to work, as did all but 10 of the essential workers. About 28 percent of 1,312 classes were taught on the Manoa campus yesterday.

UH President Kenneth Mortimer said he was concerned about the students, the university's first priority. Although the university continues to encourage students to report to every class and wait 10 minutes to see if faculty arrive, student parking lots were relatively empty at the Honolulu and Kapiolani Community College campuses, and even where classes were held, attendance was often low, according to lecturers who broke the picket line to teach.

But Mortimer also said he supports the faculty position.

"I believe the faculty deserve a substantial pay raise," he said.

The university has offered to contribute 2 percent of the salary increases to ensure that they get one, although he said even 11 percent over two years would be only a start toward his goal of raising their average salaries to the 80th percentile nationally.

The university's low average salary for professors, $77,700 a year, has created problems recruiting and retaining faculty, according to Mortimer.

"I think the recruiting issue is quite severe," he said. "What we're doing in a lot of these cases is hiring people at off-scale salaries. And basically that's unfair to the people that are here, but that's what we have to do to get them."

UHPA opposes the university contributing money from its own budget to pay for raises, and objects further to the designation of $3 million in university funds for merit increases.

Mortimer said, however, "I think it's time we had some merit in our salary policies," he said.

Another issue of contention is the state's proposal to exclude lecturers from the pay raises, which union members call "unconscionable."

Musto told union members last night, "They would have to carry me out of here on a sling before I would agree for these people to settle and give zero to the lecturers."

Among those walking the picket line was Donna Lynch, a student adviser at KCC. She is not a member of UHPA, but she arrived at KCC early Thursday with her daughter and two grandchildren to support the union.

"I'm only 10, if not now, when Gov. Ben?" read a sign carried by Lynch's grandson, Michael Sam Fong. Her other grandson, Jason, carried the message, "I'm only 9, save the university for me."

"This is a family affair," said Lynch, who has worked for KCC since 1994. "Look at these kids. What do they have to look forward to? This is their future."

The Lynches and others on the picket line said confrontations with people attempting to cross the picket line had been mostly peaceful, with police present to maintain order and allow cars to pass. Keith Kashiwada, a speech professor at KCC and another picket captain, said nobody wants to strike, but it is something he feels has to be done.

"It's just the first day. We're beginning to make people aware," he said. "Nobody wants to be here. I think that will be the feeling throughout."

Lynch agreed.

"Sometimes we have to suffer for what's right," she said. "When it comes down to crossing a picket line, we may be broke, but we have our dignity."

>> HSTA Web site
>> UHPA Web site
>> State Web site
>> Governor's strike Web site
>> DOE Web site

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