Our Union Our Family
The intent of our initial visit to the Sand Island baseyard in Honolulu was to find out more about nearly $1M in cost savings achieved by our very own “Team Clean”, responsible for maintaining storm drains, keeping vital shipments to our islands uninterrupted and our harbors safe and clean for residents and visitors. That afternoon, Mike Milis and Walter Aguinaldo, both BU 01 members, were busy lubricating the Vactor Truck, which was in use all day (cleaning in and around storm drains).
“This is the hardest part,” said Mike, “but it only has to be done once a week.” While it might be easy to slack on this responsibility, supervisory staff nowhere to be found, Mike and Walter take pride in the work they do—understanding the truck is vital to helping them maintain a level of service that earned them top honors in 2015 as “Team of the Year”. In 2015, under the pressure of a federal consent decree, the team helped devise and initiate a Best Management Practices plan involving drain inspection, maintenance and outreach to stencil more than 700 storm drains. A task that would normally cost $1.5M, if contracted out, was drastically reduced to just $530,000.
Having been awarded the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) award (two years in a row!) and “Team of the Year” in 2015, what says more about the level of pride in service of UPW members with DOT Harbors is the attitude, sense of camaraderie and genuine work ethic. Humility seemed to be the common theme among all we asked about the awards.
From refuse collectors to heavy equipment operators, they have a clear understanding of the important work they do for our community as Civil Servants. This year, the goal was alleviating traffic for the public on Nimitz Highway and Auiki Street, which runs parallel to Nimitz. They accomplished this through the construction of a 3rd access road to the Young Brothers shipping yard for truckers, earning them the WASHTO award a 2nd year in a row! Yet, no one seemed to want to take credit for it.
Instead, Everyone was working, quickly, to brace for a one-two punch from impending hurricanes Madeline and Lester. Winds already picking up, considerably, equipment needed to be secured and tied down. Storm drains
Superintendent Ronald Kapuniai said he had already asked all his working supervisors to remain on-call over the weekend. Even in small storms, he says, huge tree trunks and all kinds of debris imaginable runs off into the harbors with heavy rain. It is the job of our Bargaining Unit 01 Harbors Personnel to retrieve that debris, clearing the way for residents and businesses to receive their deliveries via shipments coming in at the harbors.
“There’s only so much you can do beforehand,” said Refuse Collector Nelson Boise. “The real help will come after the storm.”
We escaped Madeline and Lester only to be pummeled by rain over the weekend of September 10th and through Tuesday, September 13th—the storm that didn’t even seem to be on the radar washed out parking lots and significantly expanded natural riverbeds in Iao Valley on the Island of Maui. Without fail, crews from the DOT Harbors Division were out, bright and early on the morning of September 13th, trolling our coastlines for unwieldy debris flushed out of our rivers in the flash flooding. It is a race against time to get the heavier debris before it sinks to the bottom of the harbor, putting ships and their crews in danger of damage to propellers and hulls. Their work also helps to keep the State out of hot water with legal claims. UPW Chief Steward Jon McKee says the Harbors Division crews do as much as possible to keep costs down before having to put a bid out for dredging with private contractors.
Please take a moment, CLICK HERE, and listen to Sister Emma Taylor and Brother Bien Aspili speak about the importance of voting, and what voting means to them. Voting is our only weapon against politicians who could care less if you and your families have clothes on your back, food to eat and a roof over your head.
We have reached a critical point in the Hawaii labor movement, with the privatization of Hospitals in the Maui Region of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. The suffering endured by our Brothers and Sisters in that region, as a result of the State’s actions to privatize their jobs, is indicative of something much darker at work.
What we are seeing, Brothers and Sisters, is the evidence of forces that work behind the scenes, in politics, to destroy everything our Union has worked so hard to build. As we fought the State in court, in their attempt to strip our Brothers and Sisters in Maui of their retirements and the protection of our contracts, it was clear that fair wages, hours, benefits, and working conditions are threatened by an anti-worker political agenda.
If you have not yet made a decision, I encourage you to consider candidates endorsed by members sitting on our UPW political action committees (PACs). Both, Sister Emma and Brother Bien sit on the Oahu Division PAC. Like members across the state, sitting on PACs in their respective divisions, Emma and Bien keep informed about what is happening on the political scene. They have met with candidates, and deliberated in discussion with fellow brothers and sisters also sitting on our PACs, before making a democratic decision to endorse the candidates you see listed in your Malama Pono and Political Mailers.
If you are interested in reviewing the listing of UPW-endorsed candidates and have not yet received a copy of the Malama Pono or the Political malier, please give your BA a call.
In closing, I urge you to exercise your constitutionally protected right to vote!
Me ke aloha pumehana,
Dayton M. Nakanelua
Please be advised of misprints in the Maui County Council Endorsement Listing, both in the Malama Pono and our Endorsement Mailer. We need your help in spreading the word. The Correct Listing is as follows:
Maui County Council
East Maui: Robert (Bob) Carroll
West Maui: Open (No request for support)
Wailuku-Waihee-Waikapu: Dain P. Kane
Kahului: Don Guzman*
South Maui: Don Couch*
Makawao-Haiku-Paia: Mike White*
Upcountry: Yuki Lei Kashiwa Sugimura
Lanai: Riki Hokama*
Molokai: Stacy Helm Crivello*
Additionally, this round of negotiations will be tough, which is why it is so important we reelect City and County of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. As some of you may know, while the Governor holds four (4) votes, each Mayor has one (1) vote in contract negotiations. We are asking you, even if you do not live in Honolulu, to speak with family and friends you may have on Oahu about getting out to vote for Mayor Caldwell. He is in a tough race against former congressman and city councilman Charles Djou, a candidate we know does not have our best interests at heart. The following is an excerpt from Civil Beat Reporter Chad Blair’s report on the September 29th Mayoral debate:
Caldwell accused Djou, a former congressman and city councilman, of voting against funding for first responders such as police, fire and emergency personnel at the local level, and also for personnel impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“The highest priority of a mayor is public safety, bar none,” Caldwell said, insisting that Djou did not even bother to show up for the final vote in the U.S. House in December 2010 on a bill to help 9/11 responders.
Mayor Caldwell understands public safety and, more importantly, he understands how to run a city. We have worked well with him over this past term to improve the lives of members; and, in turn, improve the lives of those within our community who benefit from the valuable public services we provide. Mayor Caldwell knows we must work together to do the work of the City and County of Honolulu. In closing, I invite you to see for yourself and watch a short video (CLICK HERE) of the Mayor addressing members at our last Section 8 meeting at Aloha Stadium.
Mahalo nui for you support of the labor issues we face,
Dayton M. Nakanelua
Pictured here with one of the City's dedicated roads workers, members had an opportunity to visit with Mayor Kirk Caldwell at a membership meeting held at Aloha Stadium. With everything he has done for the City and County of Honolulu to ensure we carry out infrastructure upgrade projects, integral to solving our housing crisis and other issues, the choice is clear. Kirk has worked with our Union to ensure the delivery of Emergency Medical Services continue at the level of care expected by residents of Honolulu.
Sign waving schedules will be posted as they become available. Click here to find out where and when you can be of assistance.
As we saw with the privatization of the State-run Hospitals in Maui County it's so important that we get out in support of our UPW-endorsed candidates in an effort to get them elected - especially, with negotiations underway, in the elections of our mayors who have a direct say at the negotiating table. It's also important we get out in support of those candidates who may not have name and face recognition in politics.
Hawaii Division came out strong for candidate Kai Kahele, son of the late State Senator Gilbert Kahele, during the primary election. Kai Kahele is running to fill the seat left vacant after the passing of his late father. In addition to sign waving, members will be holding a phone banking session for Kahele. Details are as follows:
Date: Monday, October 17, 2016
A supplemental agreement to temper the impact of the transition from state employment to Maui Health Systems under Kaiser was signed Tuesday by the Governor and UPW State Director Dayton M. Nakanelua.
Thanking Governor Ige for coming to the table with humility and respect, personally recognizing the work of all 1500 affected employees, Nakanelua says, “The Agreement provides for a fair agreement that recognizes the loyalty, dedication and service of the affected employees of the Maui Region.”
Similarly, the Governor thanked Nakanelua for his commitment to health care in the Maui Region, recognizing his work as “a strong advocate.”
Left to Right: UPW State Director Dayton M. Nakanelua, UPW Government Affairs Specialist Florence Kong Kee, Nurse Aide Celia Santos, Governor David Ige, Certified Nurse's Aide Kai Cockett with Kula Hospital, Governor's Cheif of Staff Michael McCartney, Licensed Practical Nurse Shaunadean Gomes, and DHRD Director James Niimoto.
Speaking directly to the language in Act 103 (2015) providing for a “smooth” transition and tempering of the impact, Nakanelua says, “Achieved through the hard work and dedication of our negotiating team members within that region, the agreement provides Maui region employees the sense of certainty as required by the statute, giving them the opportunity and a means to plan for their families in the coming months.
Our Union will continue to monitor activities in the Maui Region through the transition period in the recognition that our Union’s work there has only just begun,” continued Nakanelua.
We were so grateful to have Oahu Community Correctional Center Adult Correctional Officer IV Kalani Werner accompany us during our last round of Section 8 meetings on Oahu. There, he really made the case for the AFSCME PEOPLE program–a political action program we have as a weapon against corporate lobbyist money.
Talking about Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who singlehandedly stripped public sector unions in that state of their collective bargaining rights, Werner described the ways our collective bargaining rights are slowly being eroded here, in Hawaii.
As an example, he explained that Corrections Corporation of America already has a presence in Hawaii. Our overcrowded state prison system continues to ship inmates off to the private-run facility in Arizona and are chomping at the bit to take over the whole state operation. “Like I tell my brothers and sisters in corrections,” Kalani said, “If they can privatize hospitals in Maui, they can privatize prisons.”
With Leonae Rodrigues (Oahu Division Political Action Committee Chair) for an auntie and an ILWU Union Organizer for a dad, Kalani's Dedication Comes as no surprise. In fact, please take a minute to enjoy some common sense with Auntie Leonae about the Mayoral Race in Honolulu by clicking on the video below. She shares why she feels Mayor Kirk Caldwell will do a better job than Charles Djou, offering rebuttals to Djou's "opinions" on the rail.
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.
It comes as no surprise that other key indicators, productivity and unemployment, are also related to labor. In fact, labor is so important to the viability of the economy that the Fed has now created a new tool called the Labor Market Conditions Index (LMCI). The LMCI, the Feds say, takes into account 19 labor market indicators under the following categories: Unemployment and underemployment, Employment, Workweeks, Wages, Vacancies, Hiring, Layoffs, Quits, Consumer and business surveys (Assessing the change…, 2014).
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.
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.”
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 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.