[ TEACHER STRIKE ]
UH strike endsOne down and one to go.
12-hour session brings deal;The deal By Treena Shapiro
classes back tomorrow
University of Hawaii professors were back in their classrooms today, after a marathon 12-hour negotiating session yesterday culminated in a late-night announcement by the governor that their strike had been settled.
But while the professors' 13-day strike ended with a proposed two-year contract, more than 12,000 public school teachers continued to picket their schools as negotiators from their union, the Hawaii State Teachers Association, prepared to resume talks this afternoon with the state.
UH President Kenneth P. Mortimer welcomed faculty and students back in a statement on the university's Web page, saying "it's time to go back to school" while arrangements are made for a contract ratification vote.
"We congratulate both sides on coming to terms in this important negotiation," he said. "Our faculty have long been deserving of an equitable contract, and we're pleased that they now have an agreement that acknowledges their high level of quality.
"We look forward to having all of our faculty and students back in the classroom as quickly as possible so that we can complete the semester's work."
Gone were the pickets this morning at the university's 10 campuses throughout the state. Gone, too, were the white "on strike" T-shirts issued by the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly. Aloha shirts were back in vogue.
In Manoa, an early-morning rain failed to dampen the spirits of faculty and students heading back to classes for the first time since April 5, when UHPA members joined members of the HSTA in an unprecedented walkout by public school educators. Faculty parking lots that had been empty for days began filling up early at the Manoa campus.
Christine Kirk-Kuwaye, director of leadership programs at the UH-Manoa Campus Center, was happy to be back in her office. "I feel good about going out (on strike)," but was "missing a lot of folks," she said. It was "very quiet today, like an ultra-holiday," she said, adding that she didn't expect to see many students until tomorrow. "There are piles of stuff on my desk," she said. "I'm trying to figure out exactly what I should do first."
She'll probably have to let some things go that she wanted to do, or postpone them until summer.
Mark Lawhorn, a language arts professor at Kapiolani Community College, was "ecstatic to be going back to my classes and seeing my students again."
He said he appreciated the support from students and the community during the strike. One of the hardest things faculty had to cope with, Lawhorn said, was concern for students looking forward to graduation.
The settlement was a relief for UH students who worried about losing a semester.
"I'm glad it's getting settled," said Malia Hutton, a human resources management major.
Accounting major Chad Ishibashi said he was "relieved, very relieved." Losing a semester, would have been "very detrimental for me," he said.
Carolyne Cook, a graduate student in the College of Education, said, "I'm glad it's over. I'm glad I don't have to take this class (Qualitative Research Methods) again. It's my least favorite class."
Cook said she wasn't keeping up with her work doing the strike because she wasn't sure students would be able to complete the semester. So, "now I have a lot of work to do."
Even people not directly connected to the UH were glad to hear that at least one strike was over.
"Thank goodness," Bruce Kodani, manager of University Flowers. He said his business wasn't affected but, "it's just that we know a lot of people going to school there who are really worried about completing their courses and their assignments."
Gov. Ben Cayetano announced a contract settlement with UHPA at a 10 p.m. news conference at the state Capitol following a negotiating session that started at 9 a.m. and ended after 9 p.m.
He said the two sides agreed to a "two-year contract that I think will be a win for the faculty and the university and a win for the state as well."
"We think that the contract is one that, under the circumstance, is a good contract given the state's ability to pay," he said.
UHPA President Alex Malahoff said it was "a very fair settlement that covers all of our diverse faculty and their needs and it makes sure that we are able to hire junior faculty at higher rates than we've done in the past and assures us also of being able to maintain our staffs at the university."
The offer includes an across-the-board raise of $2,325 for professors in the first year, a 6 percent raise in the second year, and 1 percent merit raises in both the first and second years, according to UHPA's Web site, www.uhpa.org.
Lecturers, who the state initially wanted to exclude from raises, would get 3 percent each year.
Before the settlement, the three main sticking points in the contract dispute had been raises for lecturers, workload at community colleges and the amount of pay raises.
Entering yesterday's talks, the state had offered a 9.2 percent raise over a two-year contract, plus 2 percent merit raises, which would be funded out of the UH budget. UHPA wanted 12 percent across-the-board raises with 1 percent merit hikes.
Although Malahoff said faculty would return to work today and classes would resume in full tomorrow, UH administrators urged students to attend regularly scheduled classes today.
Mortimer said detailed schedules to make up delayed instruction will be announced as soon as they're available. It's likely many delayed classes may be rescheduled for weekends, he said.
Earlier this week, when the scenario of weekend make-up classes was discussed, UHPA negotiator Mary Tiles said that it could lead to faculty making up pay for hours lost during the strike. "We think it's fair. If you do the work, you get paid for it," she said.
Mortimer said every attempt will be made to complete instruction and examinations within the spring semester, as well as providing instruction needed by students and programs with special licensing requirements. But this may not be possible in all cases, he said.
Mortimer said commencement ceremonies will be scheduled for all 10 campuses. If there are changes, students will be notified as soon as possible.
At last night's press conference, both Cayetano and John Radcliffe, UHPA's associate executive director, thanked U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie for helping bring the two sides together. Abercrombie (D, urban Oahu) met with Cayetano, Malahoff and Radcliffe yesterday morning.
UHPA went on strike the same day as some 12,800 public school teachers. But while the HSTA strike has closed all but one of the state's public elementary, middle and high schools, the UHPA walkout failed to shut down the UH's 10 campuses.
Up to about 30 percent of classes were taught on any given day at UH-Manoa and about 11 percent at the community colleges.
Nearly 20 percent of UHPA members at Manoa had crossed the line as of yesterday. The percentage of faculty crossing the picket line at the community colleges has been much lower, about 7 percent as of yesterday.
The UH has set up a Web site at www.hawaii.edu/welcomeback which it said will have details on scheduling and other strike-related issues.
Star-Bulletin reporters Rosemarie Bernardo
and Helen Altonn contributed to this report.
>> Flat $2,325 raise for all faculty the first year and 6 percent across-the-board the second year.
The proposed 2-year contract
>> 1 percent merit raise each year of the contract following existing negotiated procedures.
>> $1 million per year (above and beyond current resources) to expand the teaching equivalencies in the community colleges.
>> 3 percent raise each year for lecturers.
>> Faculty overload rates increased by 6 percent.
>> $3,076,000 compensation for faculty who were on strike to cover health-fund benefits and for overload work necessary to save the semester.
>> Innovative intellectual property language on patents that provides for a new formula for sharing of proceeds by the UH and faculty.
>> No payroll lag. It is agreed this issue will be determined by court challenges already proceeding.
>> No change in Employees Retirement System credit or Health Fund calculations for 9-month faculty; 12 month pro-ration to continue as before.
Source: University of Hawaii Professional Assembly
>> HSTA Web site
>> UHPA Web site
>> State Web site
>> Governor's strike Web site
>> DOE Web site