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UH contract talks at impasse

University of Hawaiʻi
Carolyn Tanaka, (808) 381-7752
Associate Vice President, External Affairs and University Relations
Posted: Dec 21, 2009

University of Hawai‘i President M.R.C. Greenwood today said she is deeply disappointed over a deadlock in contract negotiations with the university faculty union.
In a letter to the university community, Greenwood summarized contract talks, which have stretched out over the past 15 months.
She said the University of Hawai‘i Professional Assembly proposed a 7.5 percent salary hike in year three of a proposed four-year contract and another 7.5 percent hike in the final year of the contract.
The university administration has rejected the salary hike demand, but had indicated informally to UHPA its willingness to accept a four-year contract with a temporary 5 percent pay cut the first two years (from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011) followed by a guaranteed return to current salaries in the last two years.
The administration’s informal offer also included a “reopener” clause to negotiate for salary increases in the latter two years depending on the state of the economy. This informal offer was also rejected by UHPA.
“In the long term, I believe we must increase faculty salaries to remain competitive with other higher education institutions and to attract and retain the talent and excellence in teaching and research that Hawai‘i deserves,” Greenwood wrote. She said that is why the administration is offering the reopener clause, in addition to guaranteeing a return to current salary levels in the final two years of the contract even if there are further budget cuts.
“However, the university simply does not have the money to meet UHPA’s expectations during the current funding crisis if we are to meet our budget shortfall and preserve much-needed programs and services,” Greenwood said.
She pointed out the university’s biennium budget was reduced by $154 million because of the state budget crisis. In her letter she detailed the administration’s plan to tighten operations in an attempt to minimize negative impacts on the quality of education for students.
The plan involves various strategies, including pay cuts for executives, increased efficiencies, reducing workforce size, energy savings and other measures. HGEA employees at the university have already agreed to a new contract that reduced their salaries.
“I am committed to working with our faculty and staff and their representatives, our students, our alumni, government leaders and our local community leaders to promote a greater understanding of the importance of the University of Hawai‘i to the state, particularly in these difficult economic times, and to protect and advance our core missions of education, research innovation and community outreach,” Greenwood said in her letter.