U. of Hawaii Faculty Union vs. the NEA

June 3, 2013

The faculty union at the University of Hawaii System on Friday issued a letter denouncing the National Education Association, with which it was until recently affiliated. The letter -- "To NEA: Thank you for trying to destroy our union" -- says that since the leaders of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly voted to end its affiliation with the NEA, the national union has "bombarded" the local union with visits, seeking to cast doubt on the decision. The Hawaii union also says that the NEA has been threatening to encourage a "decertification" vote, which would end the local union's collective bargaining rights.

The letter is unusually critical for a public statement by one union against another. "We realize you need our $686,649 in annual dues because your membership is dropping. NEA has been reorganizing and laying off staff. Your clout must be slipping. President Obama sent Joe Biden, his Vice President, to your annual meeting last year.  I guess if you want to see Obama, you’ll have to come out here to Hawaii and wait in line with him for shave ice (it’s a local thing). With a strong six-year contract in place, we tend to forget that UHPA leaders negotiated the contract without NEA help, and that 89 percent of our members stood up to the university administration when it thought we would cave in to a weak offer."

A statement from the NEA states that it wants to see all members of the Hawaii union vote on disaffiliation, rather than just leaders of the union. The statement says that many University of Hawaii faculty members want to remain affiliated with the NEA, but haven't had an opportunity to participate in the decision about affiliation. A spokesman for the NEA denied that there is any effort to decertify the local union.

On Saturday, the board of the Hawaii union voted to sustain its earlier decision and to end the NEA affiliation.

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