Sunday, April 15, 2001


UHPA chief negotiator J.N. Musto was temporarily blocked
from entering the federal building with a strike sign yesterday.
Five minutes later, the security guard let him in.

Guarded optimism
fuels UHPA

State negotiator dubs workload,
lecturers, and wages as major
stumbling blocks

By Rod Antone
Star Bulletin

The last time negotiators for the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly and the state met with the federal mediator on Thursday, there were hundreds of UHPA sign-wavers marching around the federal building, demanding a settlement.

When they met again yesterday, the UHPA chief negotiator J.N. Musto was the only one with a sign that said "STATE UNFAIR TO FACULTY."

UHPA HSTA strike logo "We're going in there with the expectation that we'll walk out with a contract before the night is over," Musto said before talks began. However, Musto had similar sentiments before the last negotiating session Thursday.

A settlement would be welcome news for about 3,100 picketing UHPA members and 42,000 college students who have been on a second spring break since the strike began April 5.

There were no formal talks yesterday in the public school teachers' strike affecting 13,000 members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association and nearly 182,000 public schoolchildren statewide. Except for Niihau, all public schools will remain closed tomorrow.

Walking into the building minutes before Musto was the state's chief negotiator Davis Yogi, who said he remained optimistic yet cautious about anticipating a settlement.

"You can always anticipate," said Yogi. "Whether we get there depends upon other people saying yes. We only propose and they reject."

At dinner break at about 8 o'clock, Yogi was more upbeat. "We're definitely making progress compared to Thursday."

Yogi said workload, lecturers and wages remain the stopping blocks in reaching a settlement.

University faculty members were seeking a 12 percent pay raise over two years, plus 0.5 percent in possible merit increases each year. The state had offered a 9 percent increase plus a possible 2 percent merit hike over two years.

Previously Musto said that the state had also offered a 4.5 percent pay hike for lecturers, something the union had been demanding. However, Musto said the raise would only apply for lecturers who had been with the university for the last 3 years.

Faculty negotiators stated then that they didn't like the offer because they claim the university may decide not to rehire 3-year veterans.

"Some of the policies that we're going to be looking at tonight are going to be quite complex and we will have to argue them through." said UHPA negotiating team member Mary Tiles.

Mediation started after a brief dispute at the entrance of the federal building when a security guard told Musto he couldn't bring in his sign.

"I can't wear this?" said Musto.

"You can wear your button but you can't wear the sign." said the security guard.

"Where's the rulebook?" Musto challenged.

Eventually Musto won that battle and brought in the sign.

Across the state, those picketing on college campuses are also hoping for a settlement.

"It's sad, it's sad," said Herb Coyle, Maui Community College picket line captain. Having to look at an empty campus while picketing, Coyle said, "Occasionally as you walk the line, there have been tears."

Musto said that at Manoa about 12 to 13 percent of the faculty have crossed picket lines, although crossing at community college and neighbor island campuses was "practically non-existent."

UHPA and the state were involved in mediation for about 10 hours on Thursday.

Mediation between the state and the Hawaii State Teachers Association went for six hours on Friday. Talks are scheduled to resume tomorrow.

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

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