UH professors to get 6.67% pay cut - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

UH professors to get 6.67% pay cut

Gary Heusel Gary Heusel
M.R.C. Greenwood M.R.C. Greenwood

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

MANOA (Hawaii News Now) -  The fight between the University of Hawaii and the professors union has taken a huge turn. The university announced it's going ahead with pay cuts even without union approval. It's a move that is most certainly headed to court and has even opened up the possibility of a strike.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. True in physics and labor negotiations.

"We just don't have the money to continue our operations through this fiscal year and the next without a temporary pay cut with our university faculty," said M.R.C. Greenwood, University of Hawaii President.

And here comes the reaction.

"I'm angry with everything that's been done just because it seems as though public education at the K-12 level or the higher education level is devalued," said Prof. Gary Heusel, State 4-H Leader and professors union member.

The University announced 3,500 professors will see a 6.67 pay cut over the next year and a half. On average the University said professors make $84,000 a year. The cut equates to $5,600 less a year.

"Given the amount of rent we're paying it's just going to make it very difficult," said Prof. Heusel.

Gary Heusel and his wife are both professors so they'll take double the hit. He says he has the same salary here as he did in Nebraska yet the cost of living by his calculations is four times higher in Hawaii.

"We've got the option of just moving back and that's probably what I'll have to do," said Prof. Heusel.

That's the fear that Hawaii's low pay will cause the best and brightest to leave. Yet the University says its budget shrank by $154 million, so salaries must shrink too, with or without union approval.

"If in fact the courts rule against us we don't have the money so we will then have to go to even more aggressive plans to save money in all possible ways we can," said Greenwood.

That includes professor layoffs, which are on the table and so is the possibility of a strike.

"Are we concerned there might be a strike? Not at the moment, but if there is we will have to plan for that contingency," said Greenwood.

"I don't think we should do something that is going to jeopardize the education of the students," said Prof. Heusel.

It does appear the union will fight the pay cuts in court first before opting for a strike.

President Greenwood also stressed that the pay cuts are temporary. Salaries will snap back to what they are right now in a year and a half.

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