January 30th, 2012

Tony Gill, an attorney representing the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, argues in a brief before the Hawaii Labor Relations Board that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has the authority under the state’s collective bargaining law to unilaterally implement a $75 million federal Race to the Top grant without a new contract with teachers.

A provision in the law makes collective bargaining inoperative if it jeopardizes federal money.

§89-20 Chapter inoperative, when. (a) If any provision of this chapter jeopardizes the receipt by the State or any county of any federal grant-in-aid or other federal allotment of money, the provision shall, insofar as the fund is jeopardized, be deemed to be inoperative.

Gill, who does not lack in confidence or humor, also manages to include some media criticism in his brief.

In addition to the legal concerns of interest to the parties, there are matters of public perception at stake. UHPA considers that the newspapers have been trafficking in misinformation on certain points. The political and editorial spin of recent date constructs a scenario in which the HSTA is frustrating the State’s ability to receive $75 M. This is rubbish.

Neither the State (nor any literate journalists) should blame HSTA for failing to negotiate a contract that solves RTTT compliance issues, because 89-20 renders any strictures of Chapter 89 inoperative to the extent they jeopardize federal funds. The State can solve compliance issues unilaterally. Being fully empowered, the State is thus solely responsible, and solely to blame, if there is a failure of compliance with RTTT that leads to loss of funds.

2 Responses to “Unilaterally”

  1. Manoa_Fisherman:

    I think Tony Gill reads too much in to the Sec. 89-20. The key words here are “insofar as the fund is jeopardized”. I assume the funding hear for the “Race to the Top” is just $75 million that is going specific school programs, not teachers salaries for those programs, and not to all teachers in the State.

    I can see suspending the union contract to the extent the teachers contract impacts activities of the RTTT activities, which are minimal at best and certainly not to the extent of the entire $75 million.

    I am glad Mr. Gill chose to highlight this section, because the biggest union contract that negatively impacts federal funds would be the UH professors, who he represents. When Abecrombie is gone and a reasonable person whose wife is not a UH professor or campaign insider like AA is, hopefully the next Governor will cut the UHPA contract costs by slicing the compensation package to those overpaid professors by 50%. The average UH professor makes more than the Govenor or the Chief Justice and is not accountable to anyone in the public sector. The clerk/typist at the counter of any state or county agency represented by the HGEA has more public accountability than the UH professors who take a fat pay check and have no public accountability.

  2. Ross:

    @Manoa_fisherman – would you kindly quote your actual stats on exactly what the average UH professor earns, and also break this down by college? While I do not have specific stats before me, what I can say is that I am married to a UH professor (PhD) and if what you say is true, then my husband is grossly underpaid. When he was hired as an Assistant Professor at UH 5 years ago, his starting salary was about 60K plus he could earn up to an additional 20k from grant funds IF he could obtain grants. Some years he has the grant funds and other years not. His salary has risen in 5 years and now it is about 72k plus grants, again….when he has them. And I should say that we works 12 months even though he has a 9 month position, and puts in a minimum of 60 hour work weeks. True, there is some overpaid dead wood at UH as there is in all sectors. But to claim that the average UH professor earns more than the Governor is patently false.

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