MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Six months into her term, the new UH president is showing her tough side. On Tuesday night, M.R.C. Greenwood says she will not give in to the demands of the faculty union.
Facing a $150-million shortfall, she says the university must impose salary cuts. On December 28th, Greenwood gave the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly or UHPA her final, former offer. After filing a grievance on Monday seeking to stop salary cuts unilaterally, Greenwood stood by her offer on Tuesday.
By standing her ground, Greenwood may trigger lawsuits or even a strike. That's according to labor law attorney Mike Nauyokas.
"She's trying to unilaterally shove it down their throats and anytime you try to do that to a labor union that's certified as an exclusive bargaining representative, you're just asking for trouble," he said.
Under Greenwood's seven percent salary cut proposal, about 3,500 UH professors would lose on average, $5,600 over the next year..
Greenwood outlined the pay reduction in a letter to the faculty last week Monday.
"We just don't have enough money to continue without a temporary pay cut with our university faculty," she said.
The union says it will likely sue.
"If I was them, I'd seriously consider striking," Nauyokas said. "This kind of non-bargaining where the new university president doesn't meet with the leadership of the UHPA and talk, that's a pretty outdated sort of strategy."
The bitterness between the new president and the faculty began just weeks after Greenwood took the post.
The professors turned down her first contract offer in October when the union's leader, J.N. Musto had this to say:
"We are not willing simply to give over money through salary reductions to the university on the basis of trust me we'll spend it well."
Both sides have been locked in battle ever since. UHPA says the unilateral changes, which include a payroll lag and reduction in health care contributions amount to more than a 15 percent cut in faculty pay.
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