The University of Hawaii has decided to unilaterally slash faculty salaries by 6.7 percent beginning this week to cope with state budget cuts, the school announced.
University President M.R.C. Greenwood on Monday said in a letter to faculty that the cuts would take effect Friday and would be reflected in paychecks issued Jan. 15. Faculty will be informed of details in a payroll notification that the school plans to distribute early next month.
The school must act because it's been unable to reach a settlement with the faculty union on a new collective bargaining agreement during 15 months of negotiations, Greenwood said.
"With no new proposals forthcoming from either party and the spring semester beginning shortly, it is imperative that we address the university's current budget deficit now if the university is to sustain operations through the rest of this fiscal year and next," Greenwood said in the letter.
The head of the faculty union said the university's move was without precedent in Hawaii and mocked the collective bargaining process.
"Today's action is not only a breach of contract, but also shows blatant disrespect for the negotiated agreement and the faculty," said J.N. Musto, UH Professional Assembly executive director and chief negotiator.
The union will act to protect faculty rights and preserve a legitimate collective bargaining agreement in whatever court or venue is necessary, Musto said in a statement.
The university initially proposed a four-year plan that would have cut salaries by 5 percent during the first two years and then restore salaries to current levels for the next two years.
The union countered with a proposal permitting the pay cuts but requiring 7.5 percent pay hikes in the third and fourth years. The university rejected this idea.
A subsequent university proposal offered 5 percent pay cuts, guaranteed restoration to current levels and talks on salary hikes if economic conditions improve. The union rejected the idea.
The state is facing a projected $721 million budget deficit for the 2010 fiscal year ending in June. The shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year is estimated at $506 million.
The state has been slashing funding for programs, including mental health services, K-12 public school education, pest control and the state elections office.