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Monday, August 2, 2021
UHPA: Vaccine Mandates Subject to Collective Bargaining
By News Release @ 9:45 PM :: 1559 Views :: Higher Education, COVID-19

Mandates Subject to Collective Bargaining

Mandates Must Abide With Collective Bargaining Protocols

From UHPA, July 28, 2021

Any requirement imposed on University of Hawai‘i faculty as a new term or condition of continued employment must be freely discussed and jointly agreed to by the parties before the impact of these requirements can be enforced. This is the recognized standard established via the collective bargaining process to promote harmonious and cooperative relations between government and its employees and to protect the public by assuring effective and orderly operations. 

The UHPA believes this statutory requirement applies to this situation over the mandate to require faculty to be fully vaccinated to continue their employment at the University of Hawai‘i system and the 10 campuses statewide.

We Recognize The Importance of Vaccination

There is no doubt COVID-19 vaccinations play an important role in preventing the transmission of the disease and keeping down the number of cases in our state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said those who are fully vaccinated have less chances for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 and this minimizes the need for hospitalizations.

The benefits of the vaccinations, notwithstanding, is important to the parties to adhere to the collective bargaining process.

Courts Are Approving Reasonable Mandates

UHPA does recognize that while this issue is relatively new, there have been significant and impactful recent decisions made by other universities and other public and private organizations to mandate vaccination of students and employees.  These recent mandates have been challenged and approved by the courts and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) where employers can require all employees who physically enter the workplace to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, so long as employers comply with reasonable accommodation provisions of the ADA and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other EEO considerations.

UHPA Has Worked Well With UH Admin and This Practice Should Continue

UHPA and faculty look forward to engaging in productive and meaningful discussions with the UH administration to explore ways to ensure UH students and faculty have a safe learning environment while also upholding the collective bargaining process.

Throughout the pandemic, UHPA and UH administration have had a productive relationship based on mutual trust and respect. We are confident we will be able to resolve any potential vaccination mandate together through joint decision-making.

  *   *   *   *   *

UH Rescinds Return To Work Requirement

From UHPA, July 24, 2021

UHPA’s Negotiations Team has been working with UH over the recent weeks regarding policies concerning returning to work.   These discussions, now being lead by Vice President for Community Colleges (VPCC) Erika Lacro are beginning to yield fruitful results and good collaboration, most recently noted by UH President David Lassner announcing that “The previously announced requirement that all employees return to campus August 3 is rescinded and the COVID-19 Telework leave option will remain in place.”

Great Results Are Possible Though Genuine Collaboration

UHPA will continue working with UH in developing a non-COVID-19 telework policy that represents the best interests for all. Christian Fern, Executive Director of UHPA said, “When the pandemic first struck in the Spring of 2020 and there was an immediate shift to distance learning, UH and UHPA demonstrated that we can efficiently work together to resolve issues.  The collaboration resulted in over 17,000 degrees, diplomas and certificates awarded to students during the pandemic. It simply makes sense to continue in this tradition of collaboration with UH, lead by VPCC Erika Lacro, as we now shift to discussing return-to-campus policies that will have long-term positive effects upon the entire UH community”.

We’ll continue to update our members on this progress via our regular Monday Reports. 

HGEA: Revised UH COVID-19 Interim Guidelines

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