[ TEACHER STRIKE ]
Force of UH strikeAs the University of Hawaii faculty strike stretches with no settlement in sight, the number of faculty walking off the picket line and onto campus has crept up since the strike began a week ago.
weakening as faculty
walk off picket lines
13 percent signed inBy Treena Shapiro
for work yesterday
Strikers seem to agree on one thing about their nonstriking colleagues: Whether they cannot leave their classes untaught, their research untended or their bills unpaid is a personal decision, but that decision is weakening the force of the strike.
Of 3,271 members of the faculty union, 435, or 13 percent, of faculty legally authorized to strike instead signed in for work yesterday, according to the UH administration.
The most significant increase has been at UH's Manoa campus, which has 1,973 faculty union employees. Last Thursday, 13 percent crossed the picket line. By yesterday, 18 percent, or 354, had returned to work. At the community colleges, about 10 percent signed in to work yesterday, with UH-West Oahu and UH-Hilo at 7 and 8 percent, respectively.
"People have hard feelings about the fact that people have been inside," said picket captain Pat Lopes.
Once the strike is over, Lopes expects it will be difficult at first for the two sides to work together, "especially when you get your paycheck."
The University of Hawaii Professional Assembly reported that no talks had yet been scheduled with the state's negotiator yesterday, but union negotiators did have informal talks with the UH administration.
UHPA Executive Director J.N. Musto said he thought the strike could be settled in one session, although "it might be a long one."
Frustration over a lack of negotiations prompted the faculty and public teachers union to join forces yesterday, and their coordinated efforts will be announced tomorrow afternoon.
UHPA will be rallying at the state Capitol tomorrow from 3 to 5 p.m. to try to bring the state back to the bargaining table.
Picket captain Elaine Schultz said that in an ideal world, every member of the UHPA would strike, shutting down the university and forcing the state to pay attention. "Then it would be over and settled," she said. "Every person who crosses the line lengthens the strike."
Schultz added, however, that although it detracts from the strike, those crossing the picket line still make a positive statement: "It shows that the teachers aren't in it only for themselves." Caring about their students and their work demonstrates "they want to salvage as much out of this semester as they can."
Manoa's College of Natural Sciences, which has 146 faculty members who belong to the union, has had the highest number of faculty crossing the picket line, although Dean Charles Hayes pointed out that 10 of the 42 faculty signed in for work are out of town on college business.
Hayes said no one had told him why they made the decision to strike or come to work. "I am sure that those that are crossing are doing so because they think it is in the best interests of the university," he said. "I am also confident that those who are striking feel the same way."
Most colleges and schools at Manoa are operating with nonunion instructors. At the William S. Richardson School of Law, for example, no union faculty members have crossed the picket line, yet 73 percent of classes were offered Tuesday.
Similarly, Travel Industry Management offered 69 percent of courses with only 2 of 13 union faculty signing in.
All 159 employees declared essential and required to report to work come from the John A. Burns School of Medicine. Eight have not reported to work since the strike began, but the school has been able to offer 67 percent of its classes.
Since the strike started, tensions have been high on the picket lines.
A UH ocean science specialist and UHPA picket captain ended up on the hood of a truck in Manoa Tuesday morning.
Honolulu police said the incident occurred at the entrance of Lower Campus Road.
According to police, the driver of the truck said Cal Spencer jumped on his vehicle. Police said Spencer said he had no choice.
"He said he had to jump to get out of the way, but he landed on the hood," said Maj. Michael Tucker.
Tucker said no one was injured and that the case did not require law enforcement action.
Musto said there has been a total of five incidents on UH campuses in which picketers have been "hit" by motorists since the strike started.
"Drivers just don't pay attention," Musto said. "A simple rule to follow: 'I see a picket line, I don't drive through it.'"
Police issued one strike-related citation yesterday to a UH student whom they said sped his car through a crosswalk, almost hitting a picketer. That incident also took place on Lower Campus Road. So far HPD has issued eight strike-related citations to motorists and picketers.
Star-Bulletin reporter Rod Antone
contributed to this report.
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