Strange fight at UH-Manoa

The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, the union that represents teachers at UH-Manoa, has filed a grievance trying to block the school’s attempt to ban smoking there.

According to a story in KaLeo, the student newspaper, UHPA charged the administration with a “prohibited practice,” saying it failed to “consult or negotiate on a subject within the scope of bargaining.”

The administration responded that Chancellor Thomas Apple sent a letter to all three university unions (United Public Works, Hawaii Government Employees Association and UHPA) last fall inviting them to a meeting to discuss the ban.

KaLeo quotes Kristen Scholly, health promotion chairman for University Health Services as saying:

“We had an open meeting with all the union reps so we could explain what the policies (were) – we invited them in to look at the draft, ask for their feedback. Two of the three unions came to the table, but UHPA didn’t. (The tobacco ban) may not have been on UHPA’s radar at that point.

“But then when it was, and they already had the grievance around consultation, to them it was like, ‘here’s another example when (UHM) didn’t consult with us adequately.’ ”

Scholley said Apple’s letter showed the school’s willingness to consult.

“Well, if HGEA and UPW could come to campus and were working with us, how come you weren’t there?” Scholley asked.

The Associated Students of the University of Hawaii passed Senate Resolution 05-12: Tobacco Free Campus last February. The Faculty Senate endorsed it last March. So it seems a little disingenuous for the union to claim now they didn’t see this coming, or that they weren’t consulted.

The KaLeo story said that if UH implements the tobacco ban, it will join 764 other colleges in the country that ban smoking. How strange that a union representing the educators there would oppose it.

A hearing on the complaint is scheduled for today by the Hawaii Labor Union Board.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.