About 40 workers within the Athletics Department at the University of Hawaii Manoa campus have been forced to forgo overtime compensation after a memorandum of agreement with the state’s largest public worker union expired June 30.
The workers involved in the labor dispute include trainers, facility workers and ticket clerks represented by bargaining Unit 8 of the Hawaii Government Employees Association.
Under the now expired MOA, affected workers were entitled to “compensatory time off” in lieu of overtime. Workers were also divided into three groups: those that had worked more than 300 overtime hours, those that had150 to 300 overtime hours and those that accumulated 100 to 150 overtime hours. Depending how an employee was categorized and what payout option he or she chose, workers were entitled to a minimum of four months stipend and a maximum of nine months, in addition to time off. The monthly stipends averaged $325, according to a copy of the document provided by the university.
It’s not known how long the affected workers have been forced to adhere to a strict 40-hour work week since the MOA expired, but the union issued a short statement Tuesday saying talks with the university are ongoing.
“HGEA is currently in negotiations with the employer and we are working to resolve this issue quickly,” read the statement.
In an interview with KITV4, UH Athletics Director Ben Jay said he’s been personally involved in talks between the university and the union, but declined to characterize the progress of those negotiations.
“I'm involved in the discussions,” said Jay. “Obviously, it affects our staff and I care a great deal about what happens to our staff and their well-being.”
According to a source within the athletics department, several support staff were absent from work Monday at the Stan Sheriff Center, since women’s volleyball matches this weekend will require them to accrue overtime. Jay would not confirm or deny the workers’ absence, but said the overtime issue is not impacting sports facilities or the services provided to UH teams by union members.
“Were asking the support staff to make adjustments in their schedule to fit (what’s required), and make sure that they're covering the needs of our student athletes,” said Jay.
Overtime compensation is just one of several issues keeping UH Athletics in the red over the past decade. However in May, the university’s Board of Regents voted to move $13 million in accumulated debt from the athletics department to the Manoa chancellor's office, while Jay set a goal of making the department self-sustaining by the end of fiscal year 2014 next June.
As he enters his first fall season as the head of the athletics department, Jay says putting a competitive product on the field or hard court is still the best way to get UH sports out of debt. Jay said fans should see a much improved football team Thursday evening when the Warriors take on USC at Aloha Stadium.
"I think they will definitely see a different football team, and they will see a team that will really fight hard on the field all the way until the end of the game," he said.