Faculty members belonging to the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly began voting yesterday on the tentative contract that would give them a raise of about 31 percent over the next six years. Ruth Dawson, right, of the Women's Studies Program, cast her vote at Campus Center at UH-Manoa.

UH faculty lacks
enthusiasm for contract

Some professors say the best
raises come at the end of the deal

University of Hawaii faculty members have mixed feelings about a tentative contract that will give them about a 31 percent raise over six years.

About 3,000 University of Hawaii Professional Assembly members began voting on the contract yesterday. The voting continues today and results are expected to be announced tomorrow.

An informal survey of those voting yesterday at UH-Manoa and Kapiolani Community College suggests that the faculty is divided on whether to give the contract a passing or failing grade.

Greg Moore, a professor at UH-Manoa, rates the contract a "D."

"I think it's barely passing," he said, citing the backloading of the contract that gives the largest raises -- 9 percent and 11 percent -- in the last two years of the agreement.

"It's not an A or a B because of the uneven distribution," said Bjorn Marsen, an assistant researcher at UH-Manoa. "But it isn't a D or F either. Under the circumstances, it's what we can get."

Those who said they are voting against the contract cited the lower raises in the first three years of the agreement.

Arnold Feldman, an associate professor of physics at Manoa, said he was planning to retire in two and a half years and so gives the contract an "F-minus."

To see the full benefit of the contract, he said, he would have to work at least seven more years because his retirement pay is based on the highest three years of earnings.

Feldman is also concerned that large raises at the end of the agreement will make it harder to negotiate for a large contract during the next round of negotiations.

"I was undecided up to the last minute," said Susan Inouye, an assistant professor at Kapiolani Community College. "I'm worried that the state won't make good on it."

But she voted for the deal anyway because, she said, "I think we're between a rock and a hard place. It may be the best deal we can get."

David Ashworth, an associate professor at UH-Manoa, said that despite assurances from UHPA's lawyers, he was also concerned the state won't honor the last years of the agreement.

"It's sort of a lack of trust of anything that smells of any kind of government," he said.

Ashworth also said the agreement doesn't help full professors whose pay lags behind comparable institutions on the mainland. Full professors at UH-Manoa currently make an average of $86,553 a year, and will earn $113,384 at the end of the contract.

Manoa Professor John Hu said he gives the contract a "B" and voted to support it, despite some concerns.

"Overall it's OK, but not as good as it could have been," he said, adding, "I don't want to strike. I don't want to have students suffer."

Should the contract be approved by the faculty, the Legislature must still fund it, said Ed Yuen, the Director of Collective Bargaining at UH.


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