Do you feel like a slave yet? Rock the Power Structure with your VOTE!
Federal Reserve Policy Makers met mid-June to discuss hikes in the interest rates. A story by National Public Radio reporter Chris Arnold (Economic Asteroids, 2016), doubting interest rate hikes would result from the two-day meeting, provided some interesting insights for labor.
Although the article playfully describes Economic Policy as a journey into the deep unknown, better known as, “Space, the Final Frontier”, from Star Trek (the classic Sci-fi Fantasy TV Program), it’s not rocket science. Wages are key to maintaining a healthy consumer-driven economy.
According to Princeton Economist Alan Binder who was interviewed on air, “Wages are the backbone of consumer spending, which is in turn the backbone of the economy.” Unfortunately, wages (when adjusted for inflation) have not seen much growth, in general, over the past 30 years – making spending difficult for individuals and obviously limiting that spending to necessities.
Do you feel like a slave yet? Although the focus on labor should be somewhat comforting to individuals, it most likely is not. We have obviously been living on the edge for 30 years now. And, besides adjusting the interest rates, the government has been lax in their approach to improving conditions for workers.
There are a couple conclusions to be made here. Number One: the District of Columbia will not profit by raising interest rates; which leads us to Number Two: our power structure is most concerned with making profits.
It’s time for labor to rock the power structure with a new team of lawmakers. Lawmakers that know we amount to more than the quick calculations computed into the LMCI. We are human beings.
Repricing Hearings Begin on Maui
Joshua Meier testifies before the Conference of Personnel Directors
Statewide Repricing Hearings commenced Thursday June 2, 2016 on Maui. Five individual members were on the agenda to testify before the Conference of Personnel Directors on Maui, advocating their case for an increase in pay as they compared the work they do with those in similar positions throughout the State of Hawaii.
“It’s about equal pay for equal work,” said UPW State Director Dayton M. Nakanelua, who, as promised, was present to support members. “Field staff sitting on the UPW Executive Team were also present to provide their knowledge and support on issues.”
The Maui Field Staff was present with Field Staff from the Statewide Executive Team on hand for assistance.
The CPD will be on Maui through June 3 for deliberations. Upcoming hearings on the Big Island will be at the end of this month, with hearings on Kauai in mid July. Hearings before the CPD will wrap up on Oahu in August.
A Big Win for the Union! What it means for workers and what it means for our communities.
In an interview last year with KITV 4 news, UPW State Director Nakanelua said, "Our Concern has always been, and this is one issue that would have impact on the outsourcing or privatization of public services."
Last year, members of the community were up in arms when the city sent letters to 181 condominium, faith-based, and non-profit organizations to inform them that front-end loader refuse services to their properties would be terminated. In addition to the issue of those affected now having to contract with a private hauler and adjust for unforeseen budget liabilities incurred as a result, it brought to light an even greater issue within our communities: there are a number of property owners and taxpayers currently paying for refuse services, but not benefitting from this basic service.
In their decision the Supreme Court ruled, “the City and County’s decision to terminate frontloader refuse collection services to the 181 properties violated constitutional merit principles and civil service laws and deprived the civil service workers in this case of the protections guaranteed in Article XVI, Section 1 and HRS Chapters 76 and 77.”
“We provide the basic and core services necessary to the functioning of our communities, and, we agree that it doesn’t make sense for taxpayers who qualify for the services to continue to pay a private refuse hauler for a benefit they should already be receiving,” said UPW State Director Dayton M. Nakanelua. “Going forward, we plan to work with the city to identify properties which may qualify for the services in the understanding there are a number of reasons why a property may be denied the service.”
Beyond that, the State Director talked about how important this decision was to our membership. Saying the fight defined Unionism, he commented directly on the size of the group of affected individuals. “Regardless of the size of the group affected,” he said, “We must continue to fight based on principal. Our principals are all we have, and when the law that protects workers is violated, similarly to when our contract is broken by the Employer, we must fight!”
Reminding us this is the principal concept the UPW was built upon, Nakanelua said, “Not fighting in a case where there is merit would violate that principal.”
UPW State Director Says He Wants to Empower Members Through the Repricing Process
UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua met with available Field Staff to review Repricing Proposals on Sunday, March 6 to ensure packets were complete.
Initiated through our collective bargaining activities in our last cycle of negotiations, the Union and the Council of Personnel Directors (CPD) agreed to a pilot project to help individual members (who believe their class of work is improperly priced) through the process of Repricing. Essentially, repricing means moving one class of work from one pay grade to another pay grade, based on a comparison with other classes of work within the same bargaining unit.
Although not all proposals forwarded to the CPD met the requirements for a repricing hearing, we were pleased with the response to our request for Repricing proposals from the membership (printed in our January/February 2016 issue of Malama Pono).
Kauai Division Director Leilani Mindoro answers some questions the State Director has about a packet submitted by a member in Kauai Division.
Prior to forwarding the proposals to the CPD, our available statewide field staff met on March 6, 2016 (Sunday) for a preliminary review of packets to ensure they were complete. While some of the proposals were sent back to members for completion before the deadline of February 29, 2016, several of the proposals were submitted with a thoroughness that was quite impressive.
“I filled me with pride, as a representative of this Union, to see the individual effort, tedious attention to detail, and care put into proposals,” said State Director Dayton M. Nakanelua. “It has been my goal, since first being elected as UPW State Director, to empower the membership through our Union, and, for that reason, I really wanted this to be a membership driven process.”
Nakanelua says this initiative falls under his overall goal to educate the membership. The next step in this process, according to the State Director, will be for authors of each individual proposal to testify before the CPD in support of their position for repricing. Although the statewide schedule is still being coordinated, we expect meetings with the CPD to begin in the early part of this summer.
Decisions of the CPD are final. And, unless prevented by some unforeseen event, the State Director says his plans are to support our membership through this process by attending meetings, statewide.
UPW Retirees Show their Support for Wahiawa General Hospital
Town Hall Meeting at Mililani Waena Elementary Cafeteria
Carol and Charles Noland at our last rally in protest of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
We are so pleased that Charles and Carol Noland responded to UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua’s call to action to support Wahiawa General Hospital, and attended a town hall meeting hosted by Representative Lauren Matsumoto at Waialua Elementary School Cafeteria. Carol is our UPW Retiree Chapter President and her husband participates in the Chapter as an associate member.
“We encouraged all members to attend these meetings if their schedule permitted,” said Nakanelua. Nakanelua and his staff have been in contact with Representative Marcus Oshiro who has been working tirelessly and exhausting all possibilities at the legislature to keep hospital doors open.
We discussed with Carol the impact the possible closure of the hospital has on the Oahu healthcare system. In fact, Eric Abe, who works for Representative Oshiro, attended both meetings and discussed the impact at length – citing a recent op-ed by Dr. James Ireland who served as the former Director of the Department of Emergency Services. According to Dr. Ireland, it would cost the state much more if Wahiawa General closed. It would require at least two more ambulances, as seen with the closure of St. Francis West, to the tune of $2 million per year for each ambulance. And, Ireland says, patient care would be compromised, statewide.
“I needed to show my UPW Retiree Support,” said Carol. She said the couple had a monthly meeting scheduled for the evening, but “felt the town hall meeting was important”. Commenting on the gravity of the situation for members and their families that had invested good portions of their lives into working for the hospital, Carol said she was blessed to have retired with the State through our Union – able to enjoy all the benefits of retirement she earned throughout her employment.
UPW Chief Steward with Wahiawa General Hospital Marie Coleman confirmed Representative Matsumoto was resolute in her support of the Hospital.
Call to Action: Urge Lawmakers to provide $3 Million this Session to Wahiawa General!
The State Director is encouraging anyone who is available to express their support for Wahiawa General Hospital with Representatives in the North Shore and Central Oahu Communities at upcoming town hall meetings scheduled in those areas (Schedule Below).
“Our Union has been in contact with Representative Marcus Oshiro on the issue, and we can’t agree more with the Representative’s push in those communities to ensure support for the hospital,” said State Director Dayton Nakanelua. “We need to ask lawmakers how they are working to ensure Wahiawa General gets the $3 million it so desperately needs to keep their doors open this year, ensuring everyone, even those within the North Shore and Central Oahu Communities, will have an equal chance at life.”
We followed up with Representative Marcus Oshiro at the hearing on HB 1700 by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means to get his initial reaction to the proposal by Senator Donavan Dela Cruz. At that time, like many of the employees in the halls outside the hearing, he expressed confusion over the proposal, which involved the purchase of two parcels of land owned by Wahiawa General in exchange for $5 million from the State. “I’m still in shock, and I’m still in awe. And, I think a bomb just went off in the hallway outside the Ways and Means Committee Room,” Oshiro told UPW Government Affairs Aide and Lobbyist Al Lardizabal.
"It's Okay. We love you, Bruddah!" was the response from a member in the audience as speaker Guy Wong apologized for crying. Guy, a groundskeeper in the HHSC Maui Region, is affected by the privatization of that region. "Little did I know," he said, "that we're family."
By: Dayton Nakanelua, UPW State Director
Working Families Matter! The theme and purpose behind Lobby Day 2016 inspired over 150 members to participate in representing public workers across the Aloha State. Members and Staff united under a common cause, stressing the importance of working families’ rights with Hawaii State Government Officials at the Legislature. Various activities throughout the day allowed members to discuss and learn more about issues affecting their lives and ask questions of legislative leaders, directly.
The day began early for those flying in from neighbor islands who were transported from the airport to the capitol, where they met up with their brothers and sisters from Oahu.
Emotions ran high with, as part of the morning program, six affected members from the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) Maui Region sharing, with the membership at-large in the auditorium, their heartfelt stories of being subjected to a Reduction in Force. The audience was captivated, with a first-hand experience of how legislation (in this case, HB 1075/Act 103) can have a devastating effect on the lives of working families. Tears of sympathy streaming down their faces, UPW brothers and sisters sitting in the audience were visibly distressed by the personal stories of preparing for challenges, having overcome so many, already...Click here to Read More
Maui members Shaunadean Gomes, Christine Wong, & Lorena Asuncion are on a mission with our Union, determined to secure the retirement benefits they, and their fellow employees, have rightfully earned through their years of service within the Maui Region of Hawaii Health System Corporation (HHSC). HB 1075, signed into law by Governor David Ige as Act 103, was passed by the Hawaii State Legislature in 2015 - transferring the operations and management of those facilities to Kaiser Permanente, a private employer.
Act 103 failed to address employment separation benefits through the transition, and the Union has been fighting for legislation that would define special circumstances for vesting of employees within the Employees Retirement System and allow affected employees to retire from the State without penalty. Member Christine Wong will have missed her years of service requirement by one day, when the Kaiser takeover goes into effect on July 1, 2016. She is not alone. Member Lorena Asuncion is apparently being penalized 42% (6% per year), because, while she does meet the years of service requirement, she does not meet the age requirement for retirement. ...Click here for the full story
Saving the Eddie, and saving lives means saving Wahiawa General Hospital!
Not many people connect the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Surf Contest with Wahiawa General Hospital (WGH). Bottom line, the surf contest would not be possible without the existence of WGH. At a hearing on HCR 118/HR 73, Chief Executive Officer Don Oden attested to that fact, testifying that Wahiawa is the only hospital in the North Shore service area with the Emergency Room facilities capable of responding to an event of that magnitude, which, by Quicksilver estimates, has been known to draw record crowds of more than 30,000. The resolutions (HCR 118/HR 73) call for $6 million in aid over 2 years for the small, standalone private non-profit hospital.
UPW members joined their co-workers at the state capitol in an effort to further rally support among lawmakers for the resolutions - some arriving by bus and some in their personal vehicles. Chief Steward Maria Coleman who works in Long Term Care at the hospital spoke about the urgency of the situation stating that the hospital has “between six to nine months to prepare for the worst”. She says the aid will ensure hospital doors will stay open for two more years. Only expecting around 400 signatures, the group at the hospital started a petition and got more than 7,000 signatures in less than a week.
The UPW has long understood the importance of this hospital to the central Oahu and North Shore communities with nearly 200 UPW members working at the hospital. UPW State Director Dayton Nakanelua submitted testimony in support of the measure, recognizing the devastating effects a closure would have on the affected communities. “This is a true example of the power of people, and the power of grassroots organizing,” he said.
Wahiawa picked up the slack, and augmented services when St. Francis West closed up shop on West Oahu. In fact, the State, recognizing a crisis in the Hawaii healthcare industry, awarded $3.5 million in capitol improvement grants to upgrade the Wahiawa Emergency Room, and accommodate the influx of Emergency Room visits after the closure. Now that Queens has acquired St. Francis West facilities and opened its doors at that location, Wahiawa is in danger of closing.
UPW Operating Room Steward Frank Pavao testified at the hearing. We had the opportunity to speak with him at length outside the hearing. “One thing you have to remember about Wahiawa,” he said, “We’re not just not just a hospital, we’re a family, there. When you come, you’re not a patient. You’re not a number. You're a family member. We treat everybody as if they’re family.” He says many of the employees have been working at the hospital for more than 20 years, stressing that they stay at the Hospital because they love it there - even with the promise of higher wages from hospitals in town.
With the wealth of experience at the hospital, Frank also talked about the many healthcare professionals, Wahiawa has trained over the years. “You can’t teach experience,” he says. Wahiawa was the flagship for the John a Burns School of Medicine Family Practice Residency Program, and subsidized the program for over 20 years. According to administrative personnel testifying at the hearing, it was difficult to let that program go after so many years - especially for lack of funding.
“The prospect of Wahiawa General Hospital closing is a move into dangerous and uncharted territory that took a turn for the worse last session with the privatization of the HHSC Maui Region through the passing of ACT 103, ” says State Director Dayton Nakanelua. “The last stand-alone healthcare facility on Oahu, we can’t afford to let healthcare giants dictate our access to healthcare services.”...read more